The Mulberry Myth

Shades of Mulberry fruit right from inception to consumption are: white to green or pale yellow at stage one, then for stage two, from pink to red to dark wine-stained. 

However, you are in for a treat if you dig mythological stories! According to Greek Mythology, Mulberry fruits were formerly white in colour and the fruits only got their rich wine colour by the united decision of the Gods, as a token of remembrance of the true love between the unfortunately ill-fated Babylonian young lovers. What a tragic myth though…

The word ‘Myth’ comes from ancient Greek ‘Mȳthos’, which means ‘speech, narrative, fiction, myth, plot‘. A Myth can be defined as a symbolic account or a tale of unknown origins. It is fairly traditional and ostensibly relates to actual and real-life events. More often than not, myths are associated with religious beliefs.

Myth is a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.

– Lexico, Oxford University Press

This is one rather interesting myth about the dark (red/purple) shade of the Mulberry fruit. It is a story forming part of Ovid’s Metamorphosis, ‘Pyramus and Thisbē‘, a pair of ill-fated lovers in the city of Babylon!

Pyramus was the most handsome of young men and Thisbē was the fairest beauty of the East.” - Ovid, Metamorphoses (Book IV)

Pyramus and Thisbē both lived in connected houses, they often whispered sweet nothings to each other through the crack in the wall separating their respective houses as they were forbidden by their rivalling families to be with each other, let alone get married.

Portrait of Thisbe, by John William Waterhouse, 1909 (source: public domain)

The lovers could not take this anymore and arrayed to meet near a tomb under a Mulberry tree in the outskirts of the town to express their feelings and to elope as their love was not acceptable to their rivalling families.

Thisbē arrives at the location of their rendezvous, she spots a lioness whose mouth is still blood-soaked from her previous hunt. She gets frightened on encountering this sight, and escapes, however, as she hurriedly flees the location, she leaves behind her cloak/ veil. 

Later, Pyramus arrives, he finds Thisbē’s cloak/ veil, torn and shredded and with traces of blood all over it. Little did Pyramus knew about the lionesses’ previous hunt, he believes that the lioness has killed Thisbē, the love of his life. Extremely saddened by the supposed unfortunate death of Thisbē, he gives out an anguished cry and thus Pyramus decides to kill himself with his sword. As he falls on his sword to commit suicide, it ends up splashing blood on the white Mulberry fruits. 

When Thisbē returns to tell Pyramus about how she spotted a lioness and left that place for safety, she finds Pyramus’s dead body resting under the shade of the Mulberry tree. Thisbē, mourns and mourns and after a while, she stabs herself with the same sword that Pyramus fell upon to kill himself.  

Pyramus and Thisbe by Gregorio Pagani, Uffizi Gallery (source: public domain)

As the Gods listen to Thisbē’s wail, the Gods get touched by all her mourning and decide to permanently change the colour of the Mulberry fruits to this dark blood-stained wine shade, reminding the ill-fated and tragic love of the two young lovers and to honour their forbidden love, as Pyramus and Thisbē proved to be faithful lovers to each other until the very end. 

The Mulberry Tree, by Vincent van Gogh, 1889 (source: public domain)

Mulberry, when fully ripe, has a perfect balance of sweetness and tartness and I can’t wait to experiment pairing them with something sweet or savoury maybe…

Published by Anecdotal Craving

This is an anecdotal journal of a 25 year old girl, who is a lawyer by profession and has very recently found her true love, being cooking while reminiscing her childhood and penning it down in the most random ways, however, her first love remains to be her loving and ever supportive boyfriend-now-husband. This is an ongoing collection of short sweet stories revolving around food, life, love and lessons.

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