On my street is a tree loaded with cherries. It’s been full of them for a couple of weeks, and every time I’ve walked past I’ve been amazed the birds haven’t gorged themselves on them. The branches are fairly low-lying so I tried one, and though it was tart it was edible.
I began to covet my neighbour’s cherries.
Almost irrationally I wanted them. All of them. Every time I passed the tree I plotted how I could get them. Perhaps I would go under cover of darkness and take the ones overhanging the pavement (which is pretty much all of them)…
It was getting ridiculous.
On Sunday afternoon, a few friends and I had a picnic in Wimbledon and then I was offered loganberries from one couple’s garden. I very restrainedly picked half a small Lurpack tub of butter’s worth of berries, since I didn’t want to look greedy. I am only one person after all. How many berries can a girl eat?
This is my problem – faced with the bounty of nature, I want to take it all. I can’t get over how much free food there is everywhere at this time of year.
Anyway, on my way home, I decided to bite the bullet and just ask my neighbour if I could have some of her cherries.
‘Go ahead,’ she said ‘Take as many as you like. They’re a bit sour and we’ve got another tree in the back.’
So the next day I took stepladders and picked a stack of cherries. I got covered in pink juice. I got sweaty. I collected for about half and hour and there was still loads of fruit left. I decided I ought to leave something for the birds and called it a day.
Then I had to decide what to do with them. This was the flaw in my plan – I’d picked without planning, picked for the sake of picking. I decided against making jam or pie. Instead I dried the fruit out so I could add it to my breakfast through the winter. Drying the fruit makes it sweeter and it preserves it too, a jarful of cherry goodness.
I shared the loganberries with my friend L, and we ate them with homemade meringues and double cream as part of a picnic on the common.
And then because I had egg yolks left over from the meringues, I made mayonnaise, which we ate with boiled eggs, boiled new potatoes, rocket and salmon.
Summer on a plate. Yum scrunch.