Monday, July 4, 2011

In praise of … the blackberry

Not that one. The handheld gizmo with all the addictiveness, and few of the upsides, of a class A substance has just ruined your holiday. You're now going to have to reconnect with nature in between long hours at a desk. But how better to do so than with Rubus fruticosus – the real blackberry, which is now in season, and a fitting flavour of the month. The blackberry proves to children that snacks need not come pre-packed and rammed with additives. Even better – it's guilt-free. Food miles: zero. Carbon footprint? We think not. To pick blackberries is to participate in an ancient tradition: the fruit even gets a mention in Shakespeare.
And the bramble quite literally offers a free lunch, or at least a free dessert, which is not to be sniffed at in the austerity age. So enjoy, but hurry. The date will soon be upon us when, according to legend, the devil was kicked down from heaven to land, cursing, upon a bramble bush. In revenge, he is said to spit (or in some versions pee) on the fruit at mid-autumn each year, rendering it immediately inedible. That tall tale underlines what a transient pleasure blackberrying is. Seamus Heaney described a boy's anguished desire to preserve his harvest of "lovely canfuls": "Each year I hoped they'd last, knew they would not." So we recommend you put down your portable screen, pick up a punnet, and make tracks for the nearest bramble patch at once, while watching out for the spikes. They can hurt, but never quite get under the skin like an e-missive from the boss

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