Saturday, September 16, 2006

Mulberry Madness

Mark and I were a little perturbed at the tree whose branches had begun leaning onto our electric fence – they kept setting off the alarm. Upon closer inspection, however, all annoyance at the tree evaporated. For it was a mulberry tree, and its branches – the very ones we had scorn – were hitting our fence because they were heavily laden with mulberries displaying all stages of ripeness.

Mulberries look like elongated blackberries, and taste just as tart and sweet. They stain your hands – or whatever else they touch – a reddish-purple, which was also quite fortuitous. You see, for the past week I have been considering how I might prepare purple food to celebrate the blooming of jacaranda trees in Harare. Mulberries were just what I needed.

I don’t usually crave purple food – in fact, I am violently opposed to the marketing of purple ketchup, which I spotted during a recent visit to the States. But, when the next holiday on the calendar is more than two months away, sometimes you have to invent your own special occasions. And the blooming of jacarandas is, indeed, something to celebrate. Jacarandas are very innocuous trees during the year, but, come September and October, they lose all their green leaves and flower breathtaking lavender buds. These trees are native to Brazil, which makes sense to me because they have that brazen showiness you associate with Mardi Gras, Rio style. I am certain the jacarandas lining Harare’s streets have caused quite a few accidents in their day; they are such a singularly vibrant color that you can’t do anything except stop and stare, and try to keep at least one eye on the road.

The fruiting of our mulberry tree has come just in time to celebrate the jacaranda blooms. Over the past few days, I have tried my hand at mulberry ice cream, mulberry coulis and, as you can see below, mulberry smoothies. Luckily, it appears our tree will be producing fruit for at least another few weeks. Which means I can eat purple food straight through jacaranda season. My fingernails will be permanently stained, but my stomach will be happy.

1 comment:

ExAfrica said...

Love your recipes and your pictures.