Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries…. huckleberries?

LYNN NEARY, HOST [of NPR’s “All Things Considered”]:

Also this week, we heard about a boarding school for overweight children in North Carolina. In that story, we mentioned that, because of the school’s policies, you won’t find any buttered cornbread, pork barbecue or huckleberry pie. But North Carolina native, Elizabeth Thompson(ph) of Durham wants to know, what huckleberry pie? She writes: I’ve never seen it offered in a restaurant or on the table at a church picnic. I don’t even know what a huckleberry looks like. While this may seem like a quibble, the mention of huckleberry pie perpetuates regional stereotypes, reinforcing images of quaint bumpkins living in Mayberry. We don’t eat huckleberry pie — really.

BLOCK: Well, for a second opinion, we turned to Bill Smith. He’s the chef at Crook’s Corner Restaurant in Chapel Hill.

BILL SMITH: Well, I have to agree. I mean, I don’t take the regional umbrage that they took, but I have to say that I don’t think that we have those here.

NEARY: We also checked back in with our own reporter, Karen Grigsby Bates, to find out why huckleberry, to which she offered this very personal answer: I used to pick them as a child when I spent part of many summers with my maternal grandparents in Charlotte. They had several huckleberry bushes in the backyard. They’re kind of like blueberries but smaller, and they make great pies and very good jam.

BLOCK: So one huckleberry mystery solved, but Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner Restaurant has another that’s long had him scratching his head.

SMITH: That stupid thing in “Moon River” about my huckleberry friend has always given me pause. I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, so it goes with pie, I guess. They go and have pie together somewhere.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “MOON RIVER”)

ANDY WILLIAMS: (Singing) My huckleberry friend. Moon River…

— From npr.com via poynter.org 

 

5 thoughts on “Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries…. huckleberries?”

  1. Huckleberries are native to the northwest US. They are delicious and in everything out here! We will own the regional flack of the huckleberry.

  2. I always thought the reference was to Huckleberry Finn. And the river was the Mississippi. But maybe that’s too obvious…

  3. I know there are variations of the huckleberry. The ones were I live grow higher in elevation. The fruit itself is rated as one of the highest foods in antioxidants. They are also high in other vitamins and nutrients. The season for picking is June to August. Pickers be ware, bears enjoy them too. Not to scare you off, just be aware you have a chance of running into one. Their taste are one of the best tasting berries available in my opinion. You can come visit my blog for images and recipes.

  4. I grew up picking huckleberries in Western PA close to the Allegheny River…about 85 (river miles) north of Pittsburgh. And they made a pie that is really out of this world! They are very close to but not the same as blueberries. They are smaller, have more flavor, and are not as juicy. You might think the “less juicy” would be a less favorable characteristic– but not when making pies! Pies can be made with little or no flour or cornstarch and at the peak of the season they are sweet enough to eliminate all but the tiniest bit of sugar! It takes a LOT of picking to get enough berries for a pie but, Oh My, it is worth it! And, last fall, when my husband and I visited the original Mast General Store here in NC they had Huckleberry Preserves and Jelly too! Hope to go back this year and get some for gifts.

  5. I too grew up going “huckleberry hunting” in Horry County, SC. Huckleberries thrived in our woods’ sandy soil. They were in abundance along with red bugs which would bite us good. We always had to apply kerosene to our bites after a long day of huckleberry hunting and eating Mama’s fresh baked huckleberry pie! Glenda Stephens

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