Gourmet Food Blogs: A Life About Huckleberries

Gourmet foods are, by definition, specialty foods. They are hard to find, expensive, hard to prepare, found only in certain areas, or otherwise separated from the highway of cheap, mass-produced food. Red Robin may sell “gourmet hamburgers” but they are still just hamburgers with fancy toppings. And I love Red Robin. I love their hamburgers. But hamburger no matter how you dress it up is just not gourmet food.

A slice of sweet huckleberry pie on a plate.
Gourmet food lovers who know the secrets of the northwestern United States swear by the legendary huckleberry pie.

I was introduced to gourmet food when I was a kid. My mom gave me a taste of something from a flat tin. It was … it was funky. I did not like it. But she always encouraged me to try new foods. When we went on vacation she and my sisters spent hours picking through road-side fruit stands, small grocery stores, and tasting new dishes in out-of-the-way restaurants.

So I grew up with a little interest and insight into specialty, rare, regional foods. I call them “gourmet foods”. Maybe you just call them regional dishes.

There was one regional dish I had never heard of until I was full grown. Well, that’s not entirely true. A read a book inspired by it when I was in school. I watched old cartoons named for it. But I never tasted a real huckleberry until I was full-grown and on a trip to the northwest.

Visiting a friend of mine, I went with him to the store and he picked up some jam I didn’t recognize. “Is that blueberry?” I asked. “Better,” he told me. “It’s huckleberry.”

Huckleberry. “Like the hound,” I thought. I couldn’t wait to try it. And I loved it. The jam was supersweet and delicious, better than blueberries indeed. My friend explained that huckleberries were native to the northwest and hard to grow elsewhere. He mentioned a Website called Huckleberry Wild, on a science fiction blog. This was a sub-site, a special section devoted JUST to huckleberries. “A blog about huckleberries,” I thought to myself. That’s dedication.

But as I read the blogger’s story about how he fell in love with huckleberries and decided to collect references to every huckleberry seller he could find, I felt a certain kinship with him. It must be frustrating to look for huckleberries online and not find what you want.

I mentioned this site to Charlie a few days ago and he asked me if I had found any more huckleberry blogs. In fact, I had not. You would think that as dedicated as huckleberry lovers are they might blog about this incredible foodberry. My friend in the northwest told me he once counted over 200 recipes you could use with huckleberries: breads, pies, cakes, muffins, jams, jellies, jell-o, cobbler, and more. My mind began to reel.

So why aren’t there more huckleberry Websites? All I see when I search Google are one-off recipes on various recipe sites. Charlie and I did some research and actually found Huckleberry Biz, a blog about huckleberry stores and restaurants. That was a good start, especially since the blog links to the Websites for these stores and restaurants. But I noticed a pattern with their Websites. Most of them are not real Websites.

A lot of people have named their Websites for huckleberries. Some of them blog about cooking and recipes but they hardly ever mention huckleberry recipes. The word “huckleberry” has become ubiquitous in American jargon. People name companies in Web design and consulting for huckleberries. They blog about their children, their “little huckleberries”. They live the sweet life — like a huckleberry. But so few of them seem to know what a huckleberry is or how to cook with it.

Digging deep we found one one huckleberry seller publishing recipes but it’s not really a blog. In fact, that biz blog is about the only true blog you’ll find. Many a promising blog named for huckleberries publishes at most 1 recipe for the delicious berry fruit. That is insufficient, especially if there are 200+ recipes that use huckleberries.

After much deep, deep digging we finally found My Huckleberry Recipe Repository for Huckleberry Lovers and Information about Huckleberries and recipes. There are a few obvious half-hearted efforts at Websites that link to these sites. They must have been made when someone hoped to create a large list of huckleberry sites only to find they don’t exist.

But why does Google make it so hard to find a Website that is just about huckleberries? You would never know there was a Website for a company like The Huckleberry Patch. And Huckleberry Haven is another company that sells huckleberries and huckleberry products on the Web. But Google will never tell you that.

We were glad to find the the Huckleberry Store from Huckleberry Wild where they carry listings from Amazon for all manner of little huckleberry sellers.

All we can conclude is that life must be hard for the huckleberry industry. In fact, we were saddened to learn that one popular huckleberry company had sold out to a larger company. Their huckleberry line of products continue but they are no longer a “speciality” of the provider. There is a bittersweet sense of guilt in not having found this now-out-of-business company sooner.

But huckleberries, like so many other much-loved foods in this country, will always be with us. We’ll just have to work a little harder to find them. Hopefully the Websites we link to here will last a few years and you’ll be able to enjoy huckleberries. They just came out of season but there should still be plenty available.