Tuesday, August 16, 2011

'Free' fruit

Stealing fruit from a tree in Australia is not easy. There is usually a bitter elderly person guarding their prized possession, a high voltage electric fence or about a million other people have beaten you too it and taken all the ripe fruit. That, and the fruit is pretty boring anyway.

You will often find macadamia nuts but they are not exactly an easy eat. Mangoes are common in some areas but not the delicious Bowen kind, but those longer, pointier looking ones that are really stringy. If you are lucky, you may find the most exotic road side fruit; the mulberry tree, but you have to beat the fruit bats to them and avoid the aftermath of stains on your fingers and clothes. Other than these fruits, you have to drive through an orchard to steal anything worthwhile.

Here in Europe, there is fruit to steal everywhere and most of the time, you don’t even have to steal it. There are blue berry and raspberry bushes growing on the side of roads and paths that you can pick at freely. And although I realise that it is not a fruit, you can literally put your hand out of the car window and pick fresh corn as you drive. During my stay here in Italy, we have had many stops during rides to pick a few apples, pears and plums. There are orchards everywhere and a few rogue trees that have somehow managed to grow and blossom away from the others. You can take your pick of red delicious, granny smith and using my very limited knowledge of apples, I’m guessing pink lady.

Yesterday, we managed to sample some purple and yellow flesh plums from the side of the road in a small village. It is bizarre to see this kind of fruit growing on the side of the road and even more bizarre to be able to pick and eat it. When riding, it makes for a good change from the normal energy gels and muesli bars!

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