What I love about blackberry picking is that it transcends all social and cultural divisions. You see everyone out rustling through the brambles, plastic bag in hand, black stained fingertips – young, old, urban, rural, posh and not-so-posh. Blackberry picking is the common man’s forage.
In the past few years ‘foraging’ has become rather fashionable and middle class. Restaurants in London are very keen on chalking up specials that include ‘foraged’ and ‘wild’ ingredients, chefs are constantly talking about it on the telly and expensive courses have sprung up at country retreats.
But a lot of the people picking blackberries by the side of the road in the autumn aren’t even aware that they’re ‘foraging’, they’re just there because they used to do it with their mums and dads, and now they’re doing it with their children. And blackberries are easily identifiable, they don’t suffer from the mushroom conundrum where the edible and highly lethal varieties seem to look identical. I bet you could show any British citizen a blackberry and they’d know what it was.
So, anyway, this is how I like mine. I don’t need to stew them for a pie or bake them in a crumble. Just nice and simple, dolloped on top of porridge with sunflower seeds and cream* for breakfast. Yum!
*and perhaps the odd dog hair