I've never understood how a fruit as delightful and sweet as a raspberry could have inspired the term "blowing a raspberry." How could such a sweet and luscious plump red berry get such bad rap? Out of curiosity, I looked up the term. From what I can tell, it all started sometime in the late 1800s when some witty Brits thought the sound they produced when making derisive spitting noises sounded like flatulence. As "raspberry tart" rhymes with "fart" (a word that never ceases to incite giggles with my daughters and I'm sure was hilariously funny back then as well) the term was born. Makes no sense to me, but apparently it's part of a British rhyming tradition. As my family is originally from New York City, I'm more able to understand the reasons behind why someone would blow a raspberry (or give a Bronx cheer) than the etymology behind it.
So what does this all have to do with shortcake and berries? Well, not much other than I adore raspberries and have been contemplating how wonderful they are, particularly now, when they're in season and reasonably affordable. My mind also has a tendency to wander into etymological corners -- a trait I once assumed was charming, but now fear makes people nod off -- and this is where it led me as I stared at a beautiful mountain of raspberries in Whole Foods the other day.
Now that raspberries are in season, I want to gorge myself on them, sucking up their potent antioxidants and sweet juiciness. Earlier this year, I stopped buying raspberries (and all berries) when they're out of season because they're usually grown in Mexico, often with the help of strong pesticides that end up killing off song bird populations. Out of a sense of environmental responsibility and guilt, my family and I have gone a long hard winter without berries and we are ripe (excuse the pun) for indulging ourselves.
To celebrate raspberry season, I decided to indulge in a dessert where the raspberries are fresh and uncooked. I wanted to pay tribute to their sweet unadulterated plumpness, and so paired them with a slightly-sweet (but not too sweet) shortcake with whipped cream. As I love the flavor of almonds with raspberries, I added some nuts to the shortcake. The result was everything I had hoped for: a fresh burst of raspberry flavor atop buttery shortcakes, finished off with pillowy whipped cream and a hint of almond crunchiness. It was really the antithesis of a Bronx cheer.
Raspberry Almond Shortcake