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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ravishing Raspberries.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet." Shakespeare.

My family suffers under the misapprehension that I do not like fruit; it is not true. I'm just not overly fond of what grows in such luxurious abundance in these northern climes. What I like, & will eat till the cows come home, are those delectable delights native to cooler climes than mine: peaches, kiwi fruit, nectarines & that queen of all berries, the Raspberry.

Others sing praises of the strawberry but I am enthralled by raspberries & raspberries, my friend, belong to the same family as the Queen of Flowers, the rose!

Raspberries have a long & noble history.They are native to Asia Minor, originating in what is modern Turkey, where the ancient Trojans gathered them wild from the foothills of Mt Ida. Here, so mythology says, the nymph Ida gathered the white berries for a weeping infant Jupiter, & in gathering them pricked her thumb, turning the berries a much rosier hue. Their botanical name remembers the story: Rubus [red] idaeus [belonging to Ida].

The Roman agriculturalist, Palladuis, fist recorded their domestication & indeed the Romans are largely responsible for their spread throughout the Empire. Seeds have been discovered on archaeological digs in the Roman forts of Britain.

Raspberries don't keep well so for many centuries were one of the elite foods of the very rich. Not much has changed really unless you cultivate your own. A small punnet still costs a small fortune. From Medieval times on they were considered medicinal as well as utilitarian. The juice was used in paintings & illuminated manuscripts; their leaves were brewed as a tea for the relief of *women's ailments*. Indeed raspberries were so useful King Edward I [1272 ~ 1307] called for their cultivation.

And the thing with raspberries is that they really are a wonder fruit. They posses 50% more antioxidant activity than strawberries, 3 times more than kiwi fruit & 10 times more than tomatoes! They also contain ellagitannins, a family of compounds pretty much exclusive to raspberries & responsible for helping prevent cancer.

And lastly, because it amuses me, the name raspberry is a Middle English derivative combined from raspis [a kind of wine cured in a wooden vessel] & berry & we all know what happened to Anne with Marilla's perfectly harmless raspberry *cordial*!


Allison said...

One of my favorites, too. Raspberries and pomegranates. One prickly to harvest, one incredibily time-consuming to eat. Sigh.

olga vladimirsky said...

My favorites are also raspberries and pomegranates and I love the wild raspberries, wild blueberries, wild strawberries (zemlyanika) most(never seen a wild pomegranates yet)

Ganeida said...

Pomegranates, nectar of the gods! ☺ Hard to get a decent one out here though.

notes from an island said...

no body buys pomegranates here raspberries are still unavable will find out though

Anonymous said...

Hi Ganeida,
Hmmm... we can't grow raspberries here - they don't like the bore water, but we do have blackberries (thornless type) growing in the vege patch.

Sandra said...

I too love raspberries, but would get a terrible case of hives when I ate them. Sometime in my forties that stopped. Oh happy day!

As usual, I learned a lot about a seemingly small item. : )

Ganeida said...

Mr Bean: I don't mind them frozen...The freezer carries those.

Jillian: we do get wild ones but ideally I would get some canes...

Sandra: I just have a very trivial mind. lol.

seekingmyLord said...

Love the berry, but I don't know how I would have made it without red raspberry leaf tea! It really took the edge off my cramps for many years!!!