BLUEBARB IS GORGES
My blueberry reverie is interrupted by an individual seated at the bakery’s window table. Her voice is loud enough to drown out Dean Martin’s rendition of “That’s Amore.” Admonishing someone on the other end of the line, there’s a heated exchange taking place. I am privy to only one side of the conversation.
“Do NOT call your father, did you hear me?! Are you listening to me?? Well, are you??” Momentary pause and then, “This conversation is OVER!”
Yes Madam, not only did I hear you, but ditto for everyone within earshot. Blissfully your conversation has concluded, and so has Dean-o’s time on the 1940’s Big Band Express. I return to the fruit at hand. Nine pounds of clean, stem-free berries will yield six pies. Times two brings the count up to a dozen pies and ten blue stained digits. Blueberries are tumbling pell mell into an oversized stainless steel mixing bowl. Every now and again, the purple berries skittle across the counter landing on the checkerboard floor. They leave indelible splotches underfoot, what I imagine a Cat in the Hat crime scene tinted blue instead of pink might resemble.
My feet have logged many miles recently, beginning last Saturday in Ithaca, New York. Assembling on the newly refurbished Ithaca Commons at the ungodly hour of 7:30 am, seven hundred runners finessed a route that followed the Cayuga Lake waterfront trail before
winding up the grueling hills to Cornell then back again to finish on the Commons.
In a town known for mercurial weather patterns referred to as ‘Ithacating,’ Saturday’s temps were chilly to start, unseasonably warm as the day unfolded. As a group, the runners were exceedingly well behaved, sedately attired (no tutus this year) and gracious when it came to sharing the road. Of course, there is always one individual who not only tries my patience, but I just can’t seem to shake.
Somewhere along Mile Marker 6, we came upon two small suspension bridges that swayed underfoot. Once again landing on solid ground, there was an incessant sound coming from behind me. A fairly robust gentleman was swilling Gatorade with one hand and mopping the sweat from his brow with the other. Not only were his footsteps out of sync with mine, he punctuated each stroke of the pavement with uninhibited hiccups. I lost him at Mile Marker 7.
At the conclusion of the race, Ithaca Gorges Half Marathon organizers threw one swell after party. Ithaca Beer Company provided refreshment, but I was more fixated on Ithaca Milk brand yogurt, early yet sweet peaches and local strawberries. Wedges of juicy watermelon and a requisite banana completed the breakfast menu. For those seeking more substantial foodstuffs, barbeque grills were blazing. I passed on the burgers, opting instead for an ear of corn.
Strawberries were abundant at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market as well. Predictably displayed alongside leafy stalks of rhubarb, blueberries cozied up between the two. As seemingly oppositional as Fred and Wilma, one would think blueberries have no business cavorting with pie plant. I'm happy to report that pairing the two together results in sweet and sassy harmony. Not only do the two extreme flavors meld extremely well, the sum of the two delivers a brilliant violet-blue visual.
Bluebarb may not edge out strawberry/rhubarb as the fan favorite, but the flavor combination has amassed a loyal following. Happily, the two can now tango in pie, galettes and atop my personal favorite, rounds of rich, buttery brioche. With food trends as fickle as a summer thermometer, rhubarb side-steps its long-term relationship with strawberries for an opportunity to sing the blues.
6/24/2016 03:59:54 pm
ha ha ha - delightfully written and i want to try that pie now! "...one would think blueberries have no business cavorting with pie plant!"
I live about an hour from Ithaca. I'm not a runner but I was sweating just to read this. I love that farmer's market. I love the fresh local strawberries but rhubarb? I'm not a true upstater, I guess - never have liked it. Every year I try it and it's still no. Enjoy your bluebard!
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