In Vermont, summer is the moment to celebrate – not only the end of winter’s bad weather, but also the arrival of an exquisite fruit, the pride and joy of our state: the blueberry. And here, they are even sweeter and juicier than those grown elsewhere. In this period, blueberry aficionados begin to debate about the summer’s harvest and start making their pilgrimages, baskets in hands, to the farms that specialize in these succulent little blue berries, along with raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. The sweet bounty they bring home is enough to guarantee a year’s worth of homemade jams and pies. Every household in Vermont prepares the classic summer dessert, a blueberry and raspberry crumble, which is both simple and delicious: just put the two kinds of berries in a glass pie dish, cover with oats, butter and maple syrup and cook in the oven for 30 minutes (and then eaten with vanilla ice cream).
In the small, North-Eastern state of Vermont, where daily life is in harmony with the rhythms of nature, almost everyone grows blueberries. Of course, there are specialty farms, but even in the cities, people use their own, smaller green spaces to plant and harvest their own blueberry patch. Those die-hard blueberry fans love Elmore Roots, a nursery that’s been selling fruit trees to gardeners for thirty years. The owner, David Fried, has developed various kinds of berry bushes that can be grown even in a household garden, and which will provide fruits after just one year.
THE DEERFIELD VALLEY BLUEBERRY FESTIVAL
To celebrate the harvest, every year the Deerfield Valley Blueberry Festival hosts an event filled with tastings, cooking contests and competitions of every sort – with constant parades and bar-b-ques. This year, it takes place from July 31st – August 9th, and people come from surrounding States – like New York, Maine and Maryland – just to enjoy this unusual kind of holiday. Kids bring their bicycles, decked out with stars and bells, and vintage car collectors gather for the traditional exposition.
There’s only one rule: all of the food at the festival – whether sweet or savory – has to be based around blueberries. Even the nighttime slumber party for the kids is organized among the rows of blueberry bushes and the next morning, everyone eats a breakfast of blueberry pancakes. The local chamber of commerce even offers a “blue passport” to anyone wishing to take part in the lottery where you can win desserts or cases of the blue treasure. Everything here in blue, even the beer has a blueish tint to it. And everyone exchanges recipes, from almond and raspberry pancakes to blackberry jam. And those who don’t cook, can lend a hand at jarring the lovingly-gathered blueberries. They are a welcome addition to any pantry, and a sunny memento, during the long, cold winter months in Vermont.
Dal is one of those recipes that goes all the way back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. Unlike dishes such as biryani, brought to India by the Moghuls, it is one of those foods that has always been there. It is therefore a building block of Indian culture.