Salmonberries

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Now that the sun is here to stay, and the beach is a swath of cool relief from hot days, visitors are arriving on this island. There are the summer people and the weekend people, and there are my friends.

Before they come, they ask what to bring. Bedding? Booze? Camping supplies? Just bring ingredients and a recipe for one meal I say.

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I meet friends at the ferry and watch covertly as tension disappears from their faces. It happens sometime between the end of the ferry ride and the middle of walking up the second hill. They arrive at this shady cabin and unload their food supplies. They always bring more than a meal: The Performance Artist, exceedingly generous in her foodways, immediately set out appetizers: dark seedy crackers and gouda cheese. She confided that she had, on her way to the ferry, hopped a cab to a fancy Vancouver food store, Urban Fare, to buy morels and gnocchi for her meal. You. Are. Way. Out. Of. My. League. I said to her.

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It’s fun to see what people bring and how they cook. It gives them a way to participate, gives me a break from my sometimes rigid old world hostessing agenda.

Performance Artist cooked up a delicious cream sauce for the morels – sans recipe – making it up as she went along. She cooks the ways she makes art, spontaneously, loosely. She created a new salad by gathering the salmonberries that are everywhere on the island, and sprinkling them onto mixed greens with slivered almonds (you could do this with raspberries too).

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We took a trip into Gibson’s to check out the Fiddlehead Farmer’s Market: garlic scapes and arugula got added to our meals. But the highlight was really the Salvation Army thrift store, full of four dollar vintage gems.

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The Anthropologist arrived a day after Performance Artist left. She never cooks, she says, so the imperative to bring a meal threw her for a loop. She was intimidated, perhaps even scared. She went online.

That night for dinner we had butter chicken that came out of a plastic bag. It had been ordered from a student-run company that brings meals to your door. She brought naan bread, too, and I found some lime pickle in the fridge. It was smooth and tasty comfort food.

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In between meals we walked the trails, light streaming through branches, foxglove swaying like vertical prayer banners, birds declaiming their raucous speech. Both of my friends are moms and their relief at being away for just a couple of days was palpable.

These summer days, fleeting and lovely.

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Have you ever cooked or baked with salmonberries?

6 Comments

  1. Salmonberries. Oh dear. Yes, you could put raspberries on your salad too, and it would taste *way way better*! I grew up on the West Coast and yes I ate the damn things, thousands of them, because about one in 20 would actually taste good — not bitter, not watery — or at least less bitter and watery than the others — but mostly because they looked so beautiful especially the perfect red ones tipped with crimson. But cooking with them? I think they would reduce to water and seeds.

    I still obsessively pick them when I go for hikes on the North Shore. They taste even worse now. But I can’t help myself.

  2. Haven’t cooked with Salmonberries but did attend the chichi premiere with a friend also in shorts and sandals, where they served blue drinks in tulip glasses amid ice fish sculptures and plastic falling snow.

  3. those salmonberries look exquisite! i have not gotten to work with them. but i do have the most delicious raspberries and strawberries that taste like morning sun in napa. went to a film at the queer film festival and ran into peter and we chatted a bit. my draft is *close*.

  4. Elaine,
    That’s hilarious – and true. How many things look so delectable and have such a disappointing taste?
    Lori,
    You’re welcome!
    Cheryl,
    I think I was at that premeire!
    Lindsey,
    I’d love to see what you could do with salmonberries…

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