A good bit of my knowledge of world cuisine has been gained vicariously, through Kate’s globe-trotting, Auntie Mame adventures from Myanmar to Islamabad. In years past, work took her regularly to South America, which introduced us the beauty of Peruvian cuisine (reminds me, that fabulous spicy Peruvian chicken stew, aji de gallina, would be great for the new Le Creuset), ceviches, the infinite varieties of potatoes and Pisco sours.
But the nothing tops the wondrous blackberry syrup, brought back from one of her trips to Ecuador. Never one to concern herself about the health hazards of street food, Kate presented me with this blackberry liquid in what appeared to be a recycled (or just repurposed) liquor bottle, plugged with a smashed cork and sealed (sort of) with wax. Definitely a home-made concoction, purchased directly from the source, as I recall. Common sense made me shy away from what held the promise of botulism in a bottle, until I was stricken with a truly awful (unrelated) food-borne illness that left me wrung out and unable to eat for days. The magic blackberry elixir came to the rescue, as I could take in a spoonful of the syrup, and eventually put some on toast. It really was delicious and I was nursed back to health. Others in the household poured it over ice cream.
We’ve never managed to have it again, but have come across a very close approximation in a recipe for Blackberry Sauce from the Miami Herald. It can never truly live up to the authentic Ecuadorean version, since the sweet blackberries there grow to triple the size of what we know in the states. I just wish it had turned up while the blackberries were still running wild at local markets, but I’ll start looking for an old liquor bottle to use for old-times sake.