Berrying 101

Yes, Sir, I can berry. Well, at least if I’m a speaker of US American English. Intriguingly, the Americans can transform anything into a verb (this process is called ‘verbing’). So Yanks can breakfast, they can shower and they can berry (aka ‘pick berries’). Even though they can’t berry, the Brits, just like the Americans, love blueberry muffins. (By the way, can you ‘blueberry-muffin’? ‘What did you do during the coffee break?’ – ‘I blueberry-muffined. Yummie!’) Let’s find out what the deal is with Germans and blueberries…

In the German language, the issue of the blueberry is not a straightforward one. Yes, one can find the obvious Blaubeere (if one berries hard enough). However, this is but one of many names for the tiny fruit in question. Heidelbeere is, I’d think, the most widely used word. But even Waldbeere, in addition to its general meaning of ‘berry from the woods’, may refer to the same plant (Vaccinium myrtillus in Latin). And don’t get me started on the regional varieties…

Apparently, according to Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary, the name ‘blueberry’ has no synonyms in the English language. How lucky you Americans are! Instead, you have berries that no German or Brit has ever heard of. It was in an American ice-cream shop nearly twenty years ago that I first read the name ‘boysenberry’. (At the time I thought it was simply a taste of assorted woodland berries, which those crazy Americans named after the French word for ‘forest’ [‘bois’], changing the spelling so the name would seem more ‘funky’ or something.) Also, we don’t have loganberries. And cranberries are an utterly complex subject in themselves., in contrast, says there are quite a few synonyms of ‘blueberry’ (‘huckleberry’, ‘whinberry’, ‘whortleberry’ and ‘bilberry’ are some of them). However, I have no idea how widely used these really are.

But now to the best part: I found a page with blueberry recipes on the BBC website (also featuring other berries). In the United States, blueberries seem to have acquired a status similar to knighthood (or damehood? Are berries male or female? In Italian, the tree is male and the fruit is female. So I suppose it must be ‘Dame Blueberry’.). In any case, they have their own ‘U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council’, whose website advertises the blue fruit’s multitudinous merits and applications.

After this mouth-watering experience, let’s continue on the path of culinary delights next week…

The Pommes Buddha says: I berry, you berry, he/she/it berries.

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