Adventures in Blackberry Picking by Kemp Minifie ’75

Kemp Minifie is senior editor of, which she joined after 32 years wrapped up in all aspects of food at Gourmet magazine, as well as two years working on the Special Editions of Gourmet and After attending Mount Holyoke, Kemp studied at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, and later took classes with Madhur Jaffrey, Giuliano Bugiali, Julie Sahni, Diana Kennedy, and Susana Trilling. Although Kemp wishes she was born Italian, she’s accepted her frugal Yankee heritage, but hasn’t let it get in the way of her pure enjoyment of chocolate, mascarpone, eggs, basil, olive oil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, for starters. This essay was first published on in August 2008.

When you’re vacationing in northern New Hampshire, simply looking at the mountains is not enough; you’re supposed to climb them. But sweating up and down a steep trail is not my idea of fun. Bliss is staying at the bottom, picking blackberries. It must fulfill some hunter–gatherer instinct in me. I feel primeval; all this free food available as long as I’m willing to spend a little time harvesting it by hand.

English: Blackberries in a range of ripeness, ...

Blackberries in a range of ripeness, in West Hartford, Connecticut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of weeks ago I parked at the bottom of a well–worn path up one of the Presidential peaks. With a knapsack and boots I looked as though I was ready for a challenging ascent, but I was actually headed for some serious berrying at the base of the mountain. Only a few yards in, the trail opens onto a huge power line thruway where, unencumbered by trees, the wild blackberry bushes have taken over.

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