WHO CAN EXPLAIN WHY WE LOVE IT (PICKING MULBERRIES)
Who can explain why we love it—West Lake is good.
The beautiful scene is without time,
Flying canopies chase each other,
Greedy to be among the flowers, drunk, with a jade cup.
Who can know I’m idle here, leaning on the rail.
Fragrant grass in slanting rays,
Fine mist on distant water,
One white egret flying from the Immortal Isle.
-Ouyang Xiu, (1007 – 1072) China
I get the impression that this outing to West Lake is primarily a chance to get away from work. The poet enjoys being idle, and maybe he and his friends just happen to find mulberries to pick while they are enjoying their drink and exulting in the beauty of the day.
In any case, even the title of the poem is not about eating the mulberries — but the fruit itself is on my mind since I recently discovered dried white mulberries in the market, from Turkey. They are unlike any dried fruit I’ve ever eaten. Their extreme sweetness leads people to say that the flavor is honey-like; the chewiness of them is what I love most.
I read that nearly every village in Anatolia grows them, and the growers also make mulberry syrup, which I’d like to try as well. So I offer some photos that I found online. I also ran across a post, “White Mulberries,” from a Turkish blog, and it contains the kind of information that is most interesting to me.
The site Tropical Fruit Trees shows photos of several varieties of Mulberry, by which I was able to see that the ones I’ve eaten dried are the “Persian White” type. They are the most cold hardy and grow in USDA zones 3b through 9. If I had twice as much land as I do, I would surely want to plant one of these trees. They attract birds, and produce lots of fruit, which means, plenty to dry. The leaves are not only the best food for silkworms, but make good livestock feed as well. Maybe one of my readers will be inspired to plant a Persian White!