Gooseberry

(Ribes uva-crispa) Simply known as Berries in Yorkshire, for there, gooseberries are berries, par excellence (Hunter), that grow on a Berry-tree.

Gooseberry-pies are berry-pies. Perhaps it is not surprising that this is so, for gooseberries in the north have long been the subject of esteem and competition. Goosegog is another very common name for them. The fairy that guards the unripe fruit is known as Awd Goggie in Yorkshire (and, more sedately, in the Isle of Wight as the Gooseberry Wife).

According to the Victorian dream books, to dream of them is a sign of many children (Raphael). Of course, English babies are found under gooseberry bushes. In parts of Germany, though, children (especially girls) grow on a tree (O'Neill). To revert to dream prognostications - if it is a sailor who dreams of gooseberries, then it is a warning of dangers on his next voyage (Raphael). To a girl it means an unfaithful husband (Gordon. 1985). But gooseberries apparently served as symbols of anticipation (Leyel. 1937).

Green gooseberry pie used to be a traditional Whit Sunday dish (Savage), and besides being used as a dessert fruit, or in tarts, etc., they have traditionally been used to mix into a sauce with sorrel and sugar, to be eaten with a young goose (Grigson. 1955), hence the derivation of the name, according to some. It would be a green goose, cooked when the gooseberries were ripe, and eaten with gooseberry sauce. Another similar use was to have stewed gooseberries, pureed, with mackerel (Mabey. 1972). That there is nothing new in this cook's practice, see Gerard: The fruit is used in divers sauces for meat, as those that are skilfull in cookerie can better tell than my selfe ...". Not that he thought gooseberries were entirely a good thing, for "they nourish nothing or very little" "not worth a gooseberry berry" was a phrase common enough in Shakespeare's time), and Gerard saw but little of their "vertues". Certainly, the juice "of the green gooseberries cureth all inflammations, erysipelas, and S Anthonie's fire", and, too, the young leaves eaten raw as a salad "provoke urine, and drive forth the stone and gravell", a claim that was to be repeated often. Culpeper judged the berries to be "excellent good to stay Longings of Women with Child". But any remaining medicinal usages belong firmly in the world of charms. An Irish cure for warts, for instance, is to prick them with a gooseberry thorn passed through a wedding ring (Fernie). Similarly, and also from Ireland, a charm for a stye in the eye or a whitlow is to point a gooseberry thorn at it nine times (three x three), in the name of the Trinity, or rather get a twig with nine thorns on it, and point each thorn in turn at the stye, saying "away, away, away". The thorns had then to be thrown over the left shoulder, and the stye will presently vanish (Wilde. 1902; O'Farrell; Cooke). The Scottish practice was to lay a wedding ring over the wart, which was then pricked (through the ring) with a gooseberry thorn. Ten thorns would be picked, the other nine simply being pointed at the wart, then thrown over the shoulder (Beith).

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Berry Boosters

Acai, Maqui And Many Other Popular Berries That Will Change Your Life And Health. Berries have been demonstrated to be some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Each month or so it seems fresh research is being brought out and new berries are being exposed and analyzed for their health giving attributes.

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