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In some ways, the blackberry, because that was the fruit I already knew the best. I kept dipping into this saccharine nostalgia and the writing wasn’t any good. Every time I was able to address my ignorance about a fruit was way more exciting.There is the difficulty in terms of edibility and then its metaphoric meaning. Working on this book really revealed the limitations of my palate and my attraction to sweetness—my lack of knowledge around certain types of fruit in general. As a baker, I want to offer sweetness as a gift. But it’s led me to try to write about food that moves beyond the ease of that.
Throughout the process, well-intentioned people would recommend certain fruits they thought were difficult because they didn’t know them; it’s dangerous to me to label fruit as “exotic.” I wanted some of these fruits to have a sense of rootedness with my personal experiences, beyond just purchasing it at the supermarket. The huckleberry chapter definitely made me see Spokane differently, because that’s a fruit that’s sacred to the tribes here and has been for millennia. Through that fruit I really got to understand the history of this place I live in, the colonizers that came here, and how the fruit becomes representative of some of the ways our community still interacts.
Oh, definitely. And once you start seeing it you never stop; it felt like a literacy I was starting to develop, to be able to see that there are things to eat everywhere and how to use them. Of course, lots of people have known that, I’m not discovering anything new with that. But it was fun to document that awakening of trying to read a landscape through the plants in it. It brings joy and connectedness in a really simple way.
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