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Friday, 15 July 2016

Reasons to eat plums

My husband came home from his allotment yesterday with some gooseberries.

When I say 'some', I mean 'enough to make a crumble to feed Warwickshire'.

It was a sunny evening. We sat at the garden table with the gooseberries in a giant bowl between us. 'I need to prepare these for the freezer,' he said. 'Do you want to help me get them done before we cook dinner?'

I stood up so that I could see him over the tower of fruit. 'No, I don't want to, particularly,' I said. 'But if I don't, I fear dinner will happen in the early hours of tomorrow morning.'

I sat down again, and began. He was using a tiny pair of scissors, but I was using my fingernails, which was quicker. Pick off the top. Pick off the tail. In the pan. Pick off the top. Pick off the tail. In the pan. Pick off the top. Pick off the t -

'This is a kind of hell,' I said, after half an hour. 'Did you hear Farming Today the other morning? They were saying that gooseberries were an unpopular dessert ingredient these days with Brits. I WONDER WHY.'

It's not only the hard work, though.

1. They're hairy. They remind me of cold-weather testicles. I told my husband this and he nearly cut off his thumb with the scissors.

2. They're sour, and the average crumble needs fourteen pounds of sugar to make up for it. Forget the sugar, and your face will look like a cat's arse for a week.

3. They're not unlike peeled lychees in their resemblance to eyeballs. (My husband preferred that comparison to the testicle one.)

4. Lots of people don't like them, so if you had eight people round for dinner, and had cooked a gooseberry crumble or pie, only two people would want it. 'A yoghurt, anyone? They're only just out of date.'

5. They go through the digestive system like a fast tube train through a tunnel with a stiff breeze behind it. I was going to say strong wind, but -

6. No one can agree how to say it. Some people say 'goozbree' and some people say 'guzbree' and others say 'goozberry'. I've also heard people call them 'goosegogs'. The world doesn't need any more conflict. Nobody has that trouble with 'plum'.

We were on gooseberry number 9,376,501 when my husband said, 'Why do people who feel left out say they're playing gooseberry?'

'When I've done another million,' I said, 'I'll look it up.'

Google came up with a very clear answer. 'No one really knows.' The most frequent idea was this, from DictionaryCentral.com:

Play gooseberry ‘be an uncomfortably superfluous third person with two lovers’ goes back to the early 19th century, and may have originated in the notion of a chaperone (ostensibly) occupying herself with picking gooseberries while the couple being chaperoned did what they were doing (gooseberry-picker was an early 19th-century term for a ‘chaperone’).

As for why they're even called 'goose' berries in the first place, Google doesn't know that either. My favourite etymological dictionary www.etymonline.com says helpfully, 'No part of the plant seems to suggest a goose.' This seems reasonable, although, do geese have testicles? Just saying.

Anyway, my husband says he's got three times the amount he brought home yesterday still on the allotment, waiting to be picked: enough to cure constipation in everyone in the whole wide world or ensure that no one ever comes here again for a dinner party.





Next time, Fran would add the sugar to her dinner party crumble





24 comments:

  1. To paraphrase , " When life gives you gooseberries , make jam " .
    Of course , if you don't like jam ...

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    1. We do like jam, but we also like to have some room in our cupboards for other things.

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    2. That's what garages are for .

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    3. Alas, no garage. We have a shed. But that's stacked to the gills too. We are not very good at decluttering ...

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  2. Cold weather testicles. Nice. You should be in advertising!

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    1. Advertising what?! No, don't answer, don't answer.

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  3. I wonder if they're called gooseberries because geese are the only animals silly enough to eat them?

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    1. That's a good idea! I wouldn't like to be the one clearing up their goosey living area though.

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  4. I believe I'm grateful that I've never encountered a gooseberry here in the U.S.
    They sound similar to cranberries, with their deceptively jolly red color and complete lack of any natural sweetness of their own.

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    1. No gooseberries in the US. Not at all? I could send you some. We have a few spare ....

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  5. There has to be a joke about a gooseberry fool in there somewhere?

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    1. What do you call a round hairy green person who tells jokes to the King?

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  6. Chutney.They will go well with Indian spices. Use some onions , ginger and dried fruit.Whatever spices you go for start with some heat- cayenne.Vinegar and sugar and you're off.

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    1. Now that's something I would never have thought of. And it sounds delicious.

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  7. The garden of the house where I grew up was full of mature fruit trees where dead pets were buried beneath we were told. There was a productive gooseberry bush. So in our case what was" found under the gooseberry bush " was old bones.

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    1. I'm sure that made the gooseberries extra tasty.

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  8. I would pronounce them "goosssberries" What's with the "z"?

    There are lots of foods that I would never bother with unless I had to. Bananas are nice and labour saving. And baked beans. (Beenz.) In fact, most things. When I'm a lonely old woman I shall just eat toasted cheese (cheez) and bananas. (Bananaz.)

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  9. It's like non-Scottish people who say (Old Lang Zyne). Why Zyne???? It means "since". (Zince??) And it's Auld, but let that go... Rant, ranty rant rant.

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    1. All your ranting about zeds and esses made me giggle. And I think your old lady toasty cheese and banana diet sounds fine. I would be quite happy with that.

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  10. Quick and easy gooseberry fool: 1/2 pint thick custard, 1/2 pint of double cream whipped, 1lb gooseberries stewed with sugar (to taste), mix well, chill and serve.
    hope this helps.

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    1. Do you know, I used to make this years ago and had forgotten how easy it was. Mmm, tempting ...

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  11. Yes, what does a gooseberry have to do with a goose? It's one of life's unanswerables (along with, why did we leave the EU?).

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    1. There are so many unanswerables, alas!

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