I remember picking wild raspberries in the countryside as a girl, but my fondest memories of raspberries take me to busy city streets, usually around 2 or 3pm.
When we are poking around downtown, too often we go hard through the day, filling up on city sights, city sounds, and city smells, not stopping until we hit that wall, sometime in the middle of the afternoon, when lunchtime is long past, restaurants are closed between lunch and dinner, and we are dazed and dragging, grimy with city sweat.
Does this happen to you? (I’m sure it happens to these guys.)
Raspberries in London
In London years ago, we saw the gems and the homes and the tombs of kings and queens, climbed the rickety metal steps to the tiny top balcony of St. Paul’s Cathedral, touched the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum, fed the pigeons at Trafalgar Square, all that, but three moments that resonate were simple things, undocumented.
~First, the woman who slept in a concrete doorway at St. James Station. We passed her in the evening on the way back to our hotel. “Night dear,” she said, her voice calm and kind. She had thick wrinkles and wise eyes.
~And the young man playing violin, the most exquisite music in a most unlikely place, echoing down a long, deserted corridor of the metro (the Tube) not far from the Royal Academy of Music. A student?
~And the long walk to Charles Dickens’ house. We were lost. The streets we were walking did not match the streets on our map. The metro was far away, there were no cabs, and it was the middle of an August afternoon. We hit that wall. But as we rounded a nonchalant street corner, there it was, our oasis in the desert. It was a simple fruit stand outside a shabby store, but the raspberries were large enough to cap my fingertips, the way my daughter likes to eat them. We were saved.
Raspberries in Philadelphia
Back home in Philadelphia, we pack a lunch for days like these. Then, at just the right moment in the middle of the afternoon, we find a park bench, a fountain ledge, or some grass, and we settle in. We eat raspberries and we watch the street artists painting, the children collecting sticks, the guitar-players strumming, the old men playing chess. It’s the best lunch in the city.
What is it about raspberries that makes them so restorative? Raspberries are very high in vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and manganese. They have a low glycemic load of 3 for one cup. They have a terrific omega 3 to 6 ratio of 155 mg/306 mg for one cup of raw raspberries.
Raspberry phytonutrients include a tannin called ellagic acid, as well as the flavonoids quercetin and anthocyanins. Raspberries’ antioxidant capacity is twice that of strawberries, three times that of kiwi, and ten times that of tomatoes, according to published research done in the Netherlands and cited by World’s Healthiest Foods.
Whatever it is, nothing is better after hours of city rambling than watching my daughter sit happily in the park, capping her fingertips with bright red raspberries, smiling her wide pinked-up smile, her shadow dancing in the sunny shade of the towering sycamore trees.
(PS. Open the window and give that young man some raspberries.)
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