'My spirits soared when I was told we were having Indian ice cream for dessert, but when Nathan produced a bowl of small red berries I was confused. I watched in astonishment as he turned the handle of an old-fashioned whisk. These inconspicuous dark red berries quickly peaked into a pink cream as firm as any beaten egg whites. He added a little sugar and gave me a bowl. I spooned in my first mouthful of this fluffy flamingo-pink foam. It was sharp, almost as though citric acid had been added to a bowl of blackberries, but the texture was wonderful. The foaming nature of the berries no doubt led early European settlers to call them soap berries.
Native people call them honshu , and Nathan’s mother explained that they were rich in iron and often eaten fresh as a cure for stomach upset. I popped one of the seemingly harmless berries into my mouth and my face puckered up in disgust at the bitterness, without the addition of sugar they were uncomfortably sour.
Lying in a comfortable bed in the Mathews’ guest room, I wondered who had made the remarkable discovery that these otherwise nondescript little berries could froth into a delicious creamy mousse when whipped. Other thoughts rushed through my mind too. What a day it had been, and what an ending.
I had left New York on a bicycle over four months ago and here I was now only days away from Vancouver and crossing the great continent of North America. I had left Manhattan in search of the perfect meal, and tonight I had indeed eaten one. I had cycled past the glaciers that filled the rivers with fresh water. I had watched the beginning and the end of the salmons’ epic journey, and here, with Nathan and his family, I had eaten that salmon, caught and prepared by the chief of an indigenous people whose culture, identity and very existence is reliant on the fish’s annual run. I had enjoyed a perfect meal born of a faultless and yet fragile system and I had no doubt that on my journey this would be hard to beat.'
- 1 handful hooshu (soap berries)
- sugar to taste