Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Razzle Dazzle: Eat Your Raspberries NOW

If ever there were a food that wants to be enjoyed immediately, it's the raspberry. Practice delayed gratification with this fruit, and you may end up disappointed with nothing worth eating!

I don't know much about fruits from the tropics or other parts of the world, but in my New England world, raspberries are the most perishable and most precious of treats. Perishable like the "manna" that was given to the Hebrews as they wandered in the wilderness: if I remember correctly, what they didn't eat on the day it appeared went rotten. It was not to be hoarded or saved for the next day's provisions; this was a one-day-at-a-time gift.

But unlike manna, which I picture (rightly or wrongly) as being fairly bland in color and not exactly dazzling in flavor--like dough or paste!--raspberries are wildly, lusciously colorful, going through several different hues of red to end up where they do. And that intense burst of flavor, a perfect match for the color of the "flesh" and juice--there's nothing quite like it!

Last week the first substantial wave of raspberries were ripening in our small, untidy backyard patch. (The realtor who showed us our property on a February day eighteen+ years ago told us the raspberry patch was a rose garden. What a treat to discover otherwise when summer rolled around!)

It also rained last week; sometimes it rained a lot. And it rained something like every other day. I tried to stay mindful of the rain, picking ripe berries when I knew rain was coming, and then picking again a day later after the sun had come out and the newest berries had had a chance to dry out.

At the time I was the only one at home who even likes raspberries, and I couldn't possibly eat them all myself (when that first wave ripens, it's a lot! like a quart!). Besides, I had promised Anna I'd try to make one of my trademark pies for us to enjoy when she was home again.

But all the moisture in the air, the house, and the berries made them even more perishable and more susceptible to mold and mildew. And just to complicate things, fruits flies had made their seasonal debut at our house, and they were quite interested in the raspberries, too. Keeping the razzies covered to keep out the flies only made them more vulnerable to spoiling. I hate to confess that I ended up tossing quite a few rotten raspberries that went bad before I could eat them or cook with them.

I also hate to confess that eating and enjoying them NOW, really allowing myself to pick and eat them right away rather than try to gather and save them, challenges me (in a good way), goes against the grain of various old tapes and programming. Maybe it's partly being geared toward maternal providing, partly old tapes about the vices associated with instant gratification. Maybe it's some very very old hunter-gatherer instinct gone awry in a "gather-then-hoard" direction.

Whatever it might be, I'm open to letting raspberries teach me differently! To accept their invitation to savor them when they are ripe and ready, and not a moment later. To learn to relax, lighten up, and let myself indulge a little! To receive them as a beautiful, luscious, delightfully colorful and tasty gift--gratefully!


Anonymous said...

My mouth is watering. I wish I read this before I left half a box of peaches go south.

Sukie Curtis said...

I know--it's SO easy to keep thinking you'll save them, or keep for tomorrow.

disa said...


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