Our lovely friend Avril brings us a large bag of gooseberries, fresh from her garden. Mr B is beyond ecstatic, already salivating at the thought of a home-made gooseberry crumble. I am, it goes without saying , happy to
oblige on account of the fact that a happy Mr B makes for an easier life all round.
It’s a strange thing about gooseberries, don’t you think - they
are such an old-fashioned fruit. Or is that just me? No one talks about gooseberries in the way they lavish praises on the health-enhancing properties of blueberries, for example. It’s not easy to find them in the shops, either. Or perhaps I haven’t
been looking closely enough...
In handing over our Berry Bounty, Avril explains that, love us as she does, she doesn’t quite love us enough to have topped
and tailed the gooseberries for us. That, I say, would definitely be over and above the call of duty. I don’t say that I will really enjoy standing over a cutting board doing the topping and tailing because that really would be taking it too far - but
actually it’s not too arduous a task, especially when I can anticipate Mr B’s delight at dinner time.
Avril’s gooseberries are smooth to the
touch which gets me thinking: weren’t they hairy, once upon a time? I seem to remember that it was the sheer hairiness of them that put me right off gooseberries when I was a littl’un. I take to the Internet to check this out, where I discover
a perfect description of the gooseberry. It is (according to the Independent and never let it be said that I would argue with that esteemed publication - at least not on the subject of gooseberries) “tart, colourful and quintessentially British, this
fierce little fruit is thoroughly misunderstood.” I think I am falling in love...
When I was small, our next door neighbour grew gooseberries and I think
it was that association which turned me off the “fierce little fruit.” Ah, yes, I surely misunderstood the humble gooseberry. My brothers, sister and I all fervently believed that our next door neighbour was a witch. We mostly based this opinion
on the fact that if ever one of our balls accidentally flew over the fence into her garden, she would scoop it up and store it in her shed until she had enough to burn on a bonfire. Now, as an adult of Great Age, I am wondering if I made this up. Did I ever
actually watch her build a bonfire and dance around it chanting spells to the smell of burning tennis balls? It is probably more likely that my brother told me this, knowing I would believe him implicitly. He once told me that a very beautiful house we passed
on our way to the local park was made of cardboard and I saw no reason to disbelieve him. Ah, yes, dear reader, Gullible is my middle name.
One particular encounter
with our Witchy Neighbour remains indelibly fixed in my memory. I have told you the story before, I think, but not with the emphasis on gooseberries which is why I feel it warrants repetition. Once again, one of our balls had whizzed off my brother’s
cricket bat and landed in our neighbour’s garden where, unless we could rescue it, it would meet the fate of so many before it. My brother decided to take matters into his own hands and sent me round to knock on our neighbour’s door with stern
instructions that I was to keep her talking while he nipped over the fence to retrieve the ball. Unfortunately, coming face to face with the Witchy One, I completely lost my nerve, standing on her doorstep with gaping mouth, like a fish out of water - at which
point she twigged what was happening, flew through the house (I didn’t see a broomstick, but I wouldn’t have put it past her) and caught my brother - in the gooseberry bush. For years afterwards, gooseberries were indelibly linked in my mind with
the fear at being found out and the agony of my brother’s deep disappointment in me.
All that was such a long time ago. It is high time I forgave the gooseberry
for the part it played. Besides, I am reliably informed that gooseberries are full of nutrients including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, manganese and dietary fibre. They are fat and cholesterol free and low in calories - just 44 calories per 100 grams.
I relate all this Nutrition Related information to Mr B and he is pleased to hear that gooseberries have even been known to help reverse diabetes - though he does, of course,
have a special request which may just negate all the positives:
Don’t forget the crumble...