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One of the most important qualities in a successful professional cook is a neverending sense of curiosity and interest in different ingredients. A picky cook is just no fun!
I personally set my long-term vegetarianism aside when I started working in restaurants, and I'm more than happy to try anything. There are very few things I don't actually like. I've even started foraging in my own backyard.
Yes, I do have an actual backyard. And I haven't been hunting mushrooms or snacking on moss. I discovered a literal grove of fruit-bearing trees, and it didn't take me long to realize exactly what they were and that they were absolutely delightful.
Wild mulberries are currently at their peak in Brooklyn, and I have a gold mine of them in my new backyard. Sweet and juicy, they're perfect to eat out of hand, but are also wonderful in ice cream. Buttermilk balances their pure sweetness, making a not-too-sweet frozen treat.
I spent an hour after work yesterday shaking branches and slapping away mosquitoes. With two black and one white mulberry tree dropping fruit left and right, I managed to gather enough gorgeous berries in varying shades for a decent batch of my ice cream. I'll wait a couple of days for more berries to ripen, then it's on to pancakes!
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About the Author: Anna Markow is a pastry chef obsessed with doing things that no one else does and giving unusual ingredients their time to shine. You can follow her sometimes-pastry-related thoughts on Twitter @VerySmallAnna.