Cereal Killer

quintus_horatius_flaccus‘Ille salubris aestates peraget, qui nigris prandia moris finiet.’ so says Quintus Horatius Flaccus, better known to us non-grammar school oiks, as Horace in his 35 BCE piece called Satires. It roughly translates (so I’m told) as ‘A man will pass his summers in health, who will finish his luncheon with black mulberries.’ Those Romans knew a thing or two about mulberries, I can tell you!

J and I scatter dried mulberries over our morning muesli, we love the chewy texture. This time of year we are able to gather the ripe berries of Morus nigra, the Black Mulberry, from the young tree right by our gate and add them to the dish. Not only are they finger-stainingly good they are delicious!

black mulberry



Move on to around 1649 and a chap by the name of Nicholas Culpeper produced his The Complete Herbal. Based on a combination of local lore, science and astrology and published in plain English the book has remained in use ever since.


Here, according to my copy of Culpeper’s, are the medicinal virtues of mulberry: The ripe berries open the body. Unripe and dried they stay the fluxes, laxes and women’s courses. The bark of the root kills broad (tape) worms in the belly. The juice from the berries made into a syrup helps inflammations and sores of the mouth and throat. A decoction of the bark and leaves is good to wash the teeth when they ache. The leaves, bound in place, stay bleeding of the mouth or nose or the bleeding piles. Quite how one would bind stuff in place in the case of piles is not explained!

In modern times the bark is still used as a laxative and intestinal de-wormer and a syrup of fruit helps overcome fever. They are rich in ‘grape sugar’ which is easily assimilated and provides energy. The leaves contain compounds that help suppress high blood sugar and have long been used in the treatment of diabetes. Compounds in the leaves of Morus alba White Mulberry have proved to be effective in suppressing the progression of atherosclerosis, the buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque in our arteries. It does this by inhibiting the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, the so-called bad cholesterol), which is a major factor in the development of atherosclerotic plaque.

round the mulberryChances are, like me, the only thing you knew about mulberries before today was the nursery rhyme from Mother Goose. But why go around a mulberry bush? Wouldn’t a myrtle be as good, or a honeysuckle? Not according to the ancient Celts, who believed that dancing around a mulberry bush at the time of the summer solstice would help protect them from fairies. (Not all fairies are nice, most are malicious, and they reach the height of their magic powers at the solstice.) History does not record how successful this strategy was for the Celts and the fact that there aren’t too many of them around begs the question!

Who would have thought it? No wonder Silkworms are so healthy and full of life! Old Horace, the Celts and Nick Culpeper knew a good thing when they found it. The crazy thing is that, around here at this time of year, mulberries are to be had in bucket loads for free and nearly all the townies we see enjoying ‘the nature’ turn their noses up at the thought of eating them and getting ‘dirty’ fingers.

As for the ‘Cereal Killer’ on the title – well, I put mulberries on my cereal and they kill off any intestinal worms that may be lurking – I know it’s a bit ‘loose’ but then they cure that as well!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

18 thoughts on “Cereal Killer

  1. Well that Horace was a wise old guy!! Still today in Rome it is common to finish off one’s meal with “frutti di bosco con zucchero e limone” — literally translated that would be “fruits of the forest with sugar and lemon”, and it is usually berries like mulberries and wild strawberries. Now that I know how healthy they are I will eat them even more! Yum Yum Yum

    1. glad to have been a bit of an educator to such a worldly-wise reporter lady – good to hear from you 🙂

    1. . . speaking personally, pretty much all of those I’ve met have been decent sorts despite what the satanists and neo-nazis say 🙂

  2. I am drooling over your mulberries!! they look gorgeous and at your door step too – slightly jealous : ) Afiyet olsun – by the way, amazing photos! 🙂 Cok selam ve sevgiler, Ozlem

    1. . . there are so many trees around and so few people bother – the ground becomes littered by all that goodness!

  3. Alan, So glad you’re stocking up on that mulberry fruit. Here’s hoping it, along with J, ensures for you a long(er) and healthy life without aching teeth, worms, etc. Hugs, J and M

    1. ‘Nobody loves me, Ev’ry body ‘ates me, I fink I’ll go and eat worms, . . . remind me to sing you this ditty some time. Meanwhile, you leave my worms out of it! 😉

  4. We loved discovering that mulberries actually existed when moved to Turkey. They were from the rhyme, as you said, and we never gave it a second thought about what they were. Love both black and white but can’t help feeling the white ones looks a tad witchetty-grub-like. 🙂

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  6. Hiya,
    We came across Mulberries on the Market in Akbuk about 3 weeks ago. We didn’t know what they were but on tasting the one offered by the seller simply couldn’t resist. And well worth the purple finger tips for a couple of days. A great Blog, thank you for the time and trouble.
    Mary…a wannabee expat.

    1. Hi Mary, lovely to hear from you. Glad you are enjoying the blog – if you are still in Turkey you can get dried white mulberries from the shops and stall-holders that sell nuts and dried fruits (kuruyemiş). They are a most enjoyable snack and are great to sprinkle over your morning cereal. Looking forward to more of your comments in the future 🙂
      ps sorry about the silly titles to some of my posts – put it down to the sun, senility and the evening raki!

  7. Looking at your photos, I think that maybe that’s what I got at that market in Vietnam a few months ago. I’d been wondering…

    1. the fruit is widespread and originates from Asia – get them whenever you can and keep them in dried form as a wonderful snack.

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