July is National Blueberry Month in Finland!
Visiting Helsinki in July 2015, my MEGusta encountered a plethora of street vendors and beautiful, beautiful blueberries.
One fascinating thing about this city was that only fresh, seasonal produce was sold on the streets. Berry and pea stands popped up on every corner, not to mention dominating the market squares. Of course, the supermarkets carried just about everything, but the streets were dressed in a celebration of seasonal abundance.
Not tempted to indulge in market pastries and other such breakfast goodies due to the “free” (and good) buffet at the hotel, myMEGusta strolled there every morning anyhow to snag fresh berries, which she would wash and tote to the dining room to enhance whatever else she was eating.
Berries were labeled by origin, and Finland (Suomi) appeared to dominate the blueberry suppliers, although there was signage for Spain as well (although probably referring to strawberries).
Blueberries and huckleberries are scientifically distinct species, however the term is often used interchangeably, particularly when the menu writer wants to make a dessert sound sexier than a variation on breakfast fruit.
Native to North America, blueberries are now cultivated world over, including in Europe, where they are more popular than similar, but unrelated, natives. Why? Who knows, but it may have to do with the ease of cultivation of the American fruit.
The Finnish consumer could choose between the familiar, slightly larger, sweeter cultivated blueberry and the tarter little wild berries, something we only encounter if we live near a patch. The latter make the best pies, jams and such, more flavorful than the commercial berries with the extra acidity offset with sugar.
Check this link for an excellent recipe, Jean Anderson’s So Easy Blueberry Pecan Crunch from her latest book, “Crisps, Cobblers, Custards & Creams” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016). You will enjoy reading the article, too!
A taste of blueberries came recently at Wallse, an Austrian restaurant in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village: A blueberry compote hidden under clouds of meringue in their outstanding Salzburger Nockerl, whose name derives from the Italian “gnocchi”, for the dumpling-like beaten egg whites. (Long time readers of myMEGusta.com may recall the story of another meringue dessert, Floating Island : https://mymegusta.com/2014/02/19/least-favorite-food-most-favorite-dessert/ )