I love berries. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries… Picked fresh off the vine, berries are unbelievably sweet and flavorful. On Long Island, I used to pick both wild and cultivated strawberries and cultivated raspberries every summer and their flavor was ingrained in my memory banks. Living back in the tropics, they are the fruits that I miss the most. So when I spy them in a store, I buy, buy, buy. Today at Price Smart Fort Bonifacio I was looking for some chocolate chips but they were “out of stock” so I swung by the produce area and saw these small plastic containers of blueberries and blackberries at a very reasonable P160 per pack. Okay, okay, at roughly P1-1,250 a kilo they are wicked pricey but you don’t need that much to dress up a fruit salad.
Blueberries are small round blue-black berries with a dusty sheen. They pop in your mouth with a sweet and sometimes sour tinge. They used to grow wild in bogs and wet areas. Today they are grown in farms and for the U.S. markets off season, South America, particularly Chile, have the perfect growing season. Blueberries from Chile are in season in Jan-March or right smack in the middle of a North American Winter. Some of these blueberries have made their way across the Pacific to Manila. Rich in Vitamin C and fiber, they are a perfect addition to cereal, granola, fruit salads and muffins. I also noticed that there were dried blueberries at Price Smart.
Blackberries are rarer still in Manila markets. I was thrilled to see these imported from Mexico, though they turned out to be quite tart. Closely related to raspberries and believe it or not, roses, these large berries each feature lots of segments called druplets that contain a small seed that make up the crunching sound and feel when you chew them. Winnie the Pooh loves blackberries. I know this because when my daughter was young she asked me what blackberries tasted like as a result of a Pooh video. So on a subsequent business trip to Australia, I took it upon myself to cart back a huge box of berries from Victoria market in Melbourne that contained half a dozen types of berries so she could try them all. She wolfed down the blackberries and tons of blueberries one morning, went to pre-school and was “attacked” and bitten in the face by a classmate who turned out to be the son of my wife’s second grade classmate, and in self-defense my daughter barfed all the semi-processed blueberries at the little offender. Teehee. It all turned out fine, of course, and they will never live down the incident as adults.
Anyway, back to the berries of today. Because strawberries are still very much in season locally, I have a stockpile in my fridge. So I made two different versions of fruit salad this evening. To the left of the photo, a nectarine, strawberry and blackberry fruit cup and to the right a mango, strawberry and blueberry fruit cup. Strawberries and blueberries with whipped cream are also very good. And just when you think this is truly extravagant, one serving of the salad on the right is just P30 to make: P10 for half a Guimaras mango, P5 for a few strawberries, and P15 for the blueberries. Not bad, huh? And I haven’t seen one restaurant in Manila offering such a simple, easy and delicious dessert that I would happily pay P90 for if it came in a nice cup with some whipped cream. Rush out and get your blue and blackberries now, they are rarely found in these parts…