Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Growing Feast

Keeping my eye on some green blueberries (...) at Pier One. There are about a dozen bushes.

The berries above are Amelanchier, planted in the noisy park between the bridges, but I am not sure what species they are. The bushes are quite compact and upright, their leaves darker, almost blue. They might have been palatable had it not been for the taste reference of the others that Ellen and I had been collecting that day. She describes the flavour succinctly on her blog: "They taste like dirt!" But Ellen, I have never eaten dirt...not even with garlic. They were quite strange - very juicy but heavy on the minerals, yes. For that matter, what is the tree-form species from which I routinely pick? I am guessing A. canadensis. I'd like to tour these parks with a botanist who knows. There is also a shrub-like form at fabulous Pier One, leafier, lower to the ground, but it may simply be an immature form of the trees.

And a blackberry or raspberry is making goodlooking, still-green, fruit..

Some of you may remember the blurry image of white flowers taken one night, post picnic in this park. Indeed, they turned out to be Penstemon by daylight.

The berm is filling in lushly and may be impassable in a year or two, so fast is the sumac growing. Hmm, sumac. Jelly.

A juvenile robin wondering why the human is eating from its tree.

 These branches are literally hanging low with fruit. The berries drop off if they are not picked and they are renewable. Next year, more berries. I would never strip a tree, even if I could. It's my first rule of foraging: Share.

And while my mouth watered at the prospect of tender young day lily buds, these we left well alone. Planted front and centre, they would have been missed.

In other edible news, I will be blogging for Edible the magazine, starting...this week. I know it's PC to say how much you like the people you write for but in this case, it's the easy truth. I loved Edible Brooklyn long before I wrote for them, going so far as to investigate exporting the brand to Cape Town, and am very pleased to be more involved. As for Cape Town - know anyone with deep pockets to fund us? First we have wrap up (and in one case start!) some New York projects,  but the idea is still back there, cooking on the octuple burners of my food and plant-obsessed mind. Occasionally something boils over, unattended and forgotten, but some things improve with time back there, like a cassoulet, cooked long and slow.


  1. Very interesting about the flavor of the blueberries. They do pick up flavors from the soil, minerals, etc. Is this maintained by the city?

    Congratulations on your new gig writing for Edible magazine. Sound's like fun.

  2. Congrats! Hope this is the gig you thought you had blown last week. They would be fools to take a pass on your skills and insight. Enjoy!

  3. Trey - these berries are Amelanchier - sorry about the confusion - they do look a lot like blueberries, though, and the flavour difference between them and their cousins is curious. Yes, in a park maintained by the parks Department. And thanks.

    webb - ha, but nope! Not the same at all. Not a peep from the others...

  4. Love peeking over to see what you have to share - your on my sidebar now (so I can keep up) ;)

  5. Love the still fluffy little robin- definitely looks ready to challenge you!
    .....maybe you will get both jobs? x

  6. Someone give this woman the funding!

    Ah sumac, is this the same berry that gets dried, crushed and givs a citrus note to some mid est dishes?

  7. Congratulations my friend! fantastic news and you could not be more perfect for the job! As for your cassoulet, good attitude: your simmering pots always yield something glorious! I'm very excited for you. xoxoox

  8. congrats on your new gig! if berries take on the flavor of the soil grown in, should you be concerned if their are heavy metals or other toxins in the soil?

  9. Rob - yes! Thanks for reminding me, It's a great spice.

    Petoskytone - heavy metals are always a concern with city-grown produce, I think. The trees 15 feet away yield fruit that is entirely different, so I think here the flavour has more to do with the species. With a fruit we eat so rarely I am not concerned with heavy metals; if it were an every day or every week thing, I would be worried. In the new parks the soil is new, so hopefully better. Commercial and imported fruit and vegetables actually give me more pause for thought!

  10. Oh I meant to tell you about the Mulberry tree near me - you need to add this one to the list for future picking - corner of Berkeley and 8th Avenue. There's a scaffold around it right now, but when accessible, this tree is profuse!

  11. And congrats on the gig - well done!

  12. congrats on the new gig, Marie! very, very cool and so well-deserved. also, you are making me hungry with all the berry posts. i do wish my baby blueberry bush would grow faster, but my strawberries are finally starting to ripen! Perhaps one will have to be sacrificed tonight...

  13. Congratulations! And your pie crust looks fantastic.

  14. Love the metaphoric word play. (And the little robin wondering if mom got it wrong and these red berries are, after all, some other species' thing).


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