Going on a berry hunt


At first it seems a great idea. One of the best you had in weeks. A simple way to keep everybody happy: your husband, yourself and the three kids. Going on a hike, on a wonderful autumn sunny day, looking for Myrtle berries that you would later transform into a digestif. It was the only day of the week where they had no extra activity and the homework was already finished, so what better than that? The land was calling each one of us by name.

Myrtle berries are a recent discovery from last year. Extremely famous as an after-dinner liqueur from the island of Sardinia, it was a real surprise to find bushes spread all along the trail from Levanto to Bonassola. At first we weren’t sure, but after getting the first taste of one berry, we had no doubt that we were in the presence of a glorious smell from past summer vacations. Different area indeed, but the same rocky Mediterranean landscape.

So there we were, each one of us with a bowl we had to fill, like the old children’s story Blueberry for Sal, just on a different parallel and a different era. The task was simple: pick the biggest berries, the ones with the darkest purple tone, as many as you can. There was an incredible amount of bushes to pick from, popping up all over the place, while down below the peaceful, bright sea was being touched by a low sun.

It took only a few minutes before this bucolic moment (the one when you almost get to believe to be a better, smarter parent than anybody you know) was interrupted by the vivid hint of imminent collapse, preceded by the familiar hysterical screaming. Besides, the call of a Mimosa tree just waiting to be climbed was stronger than any future sip of purple liqueur. So there we were, forced to finish a 5-person job just the two of us, with our kids scattered all over the hill.

After an hour, and a countless number of crying fits, we had reached the amount we wanted. The one that needs to stay in a liter of pure alcohol for 20 days in a dark, dry place.

Next time we might go back for other berries, or other herbs to turn into strong drinks, the ones that would have you digest almost anything right away. After all, Italians would even put an old grandma under spirits.

Just next time it won’t be a family affair.

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