The Taste of Happiness

There was a time, in New York, when I sometimes ate fresh raspberries for supper. That was all I wanted, all I yearned for. A half pint of fresh raspberries was costly, having been flown into the City from somewhere far away where they happened to be in season, so this was a luxury for me, as a single, self-supporting woman living alone on a tight budget in a studio apartment on the Upper West Side. But I felt it was worth the expense. Eating an entire container of fat, fresh, red raspberries for supper made me happy.

While the pre-sunset-light streamed into my little apartment, I’d sit cross-legged on top of my desk, which abutted a west-facing window that overlooked  Riverside Park. Then I’d pick up each berry slowly, one by one, and study it in the golden light, as if it were a jewel — its ruby color and rounded facets, its softness and fragility, its feather-lightness in my fingers.

Then I’d place it on my tongue like a sacrament, crush it against the roof of my mouth, close my eyes, and taste. This occasional, quasi-religious ritual took as long as it might take to eat a three-course dinner at a nice New York restaurant. But I was in no hurry. I was eating happiness.

For the twenty years I lived in that studio apartment in Manhattan, I often fantasized about one day owning a small piece of land in the countryside somewhere, where I’d have raspberry bushes of my own and, ultimately, gorge on the free fruit, when in season, at will. That day eventually came – well, part of it, anyway. I wrote about that experience, planting raspberry bushes outside of my cabin in northern New Mexico, in my forthcoming book, Sweet Tarts for My Sweethearts: Stories and Recipes from a Culinary Career (Nighthawk Press, October 2020).

The recipe that accompanies that true story in Sweet Tarts is my tart adaptation of my Taos friend Melissa Bell’s recipe for raspberry-rhubarb pie. I haven’t been able to make that recipe here in Mexico because I can’t seem to find fresh or frozen rhubarb anywhere, alas.

So, for a tea-and-tart get-together I had with a friend here in San Miguel de Allende this week, I created my own raspberry tart recipe, the inspiration for which came to me during a stretch of sleeplessness one recent night:

I rolled sweet pastry dough into a large round, patted it into one of my 10” pizza pans (see previous WOW post re “pizza” tarts – ), slathered the bottom with good-quality raspberry jam, spread on top of that some frozen raspberries that I’d thawed and drained well, and baked this “raspberry pizza” in a preheated 400-degree (F.) oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the edges were golden and the fruit bubbly.

Then, while it was cooling on a rack, I carefully placed a half pint’s worth of fresh, fat, red raspberries over the top, then sprinkled it all with confectioners’ sugar.

My raspberry “pizza” tart

Just making this tart made me happy. All the dispiriting world news floated from my mind. The presidential debate/debacle/disgrace vanished from my consciousness. I’d made a thing of beauty! And not just for my own enjoyment. I shared it with friends and neighbors, whose feedback (“luscious!” “intense!!!” “THE BEST!”) fed my soul.

The guys downstairs have even taken to calling me “Queen of Tarts.” Whenever I present them with samples of my just-baked, still-warm creations, one of them genuflects in front of me and exclaims reverently, “Your Majesty!” So funny.

Here is my slice of it, which is gone now. I can tell you it tasted like happiness:

I’m reminded of a sonnet by one of my favorite poets, Edna St. Vincent Millay, that ends with, “If I would help the weak, I must be fed/ In wit and purpose, pour away despair/ And rinse the cup, eat happiness like bread.”

Except for me, at least occasionally, instead of bread, it’s raspberries. To me, happiness, like raspberries in season, is precious, rare, and fleeting. But it’s so worth seeking out — and savoring slowly. Especially in these challenging times.

~ ~ ~

Note: In case you missed it, here’s another WOW post on the joys of tart baking in tough times: .

26 thoughts on “The Taste of Happiness”

      1. Bonnie… I so enjoyed this post. Happiness is delicate in these times, to be held gently like a glass egg in the palm of one’s hand. I could picture you in that New York apartment sitting on that desk savoring a raspberry as the sun streamed in. And I could picture you sharing that raspberry tart/pizza with neighbors having had the honor of visiting you in San Miguel. So excited about your new cookbook which I will happily add to my collection. Hope you are well.

        1. Elizabeth! So wonderful to hear from you! It seems like decades ago that you were here in SMA. I hope your book is still doing well. And I hope, most of all, that YOU are well. Thank you for writing. (My new book will be out soon, Lord willing! Stay tuned…) — BB

  1. My Dad had a large Raspberry patch in his garden on Ell Rd. He kept his daughters and grandchildren in raspberries all season long. In the fall, another later variety was harvested. If there were any extras, he would sell them to .Demarest Farms in Hillsdale.
    So looking forward to your new book, Bonnie! Sending ♥️♥️ and a virtual hug, Arti

    1. Thanks so much for your raspberry memories, Arti dear. And I can’t wait to share the birth announcement for my new book. Any day now! Sending a virtual hug back to you…

  2. Can’t wait to buy your new book. Let us know when. Love the “preview” edition you shared with some Taos friends. Miss you. Stay safe.

  3. Loved this one. I read it after just looking up a non-egg recipe for chocolate mousse. My soul must be yearning for things like this as John & I have a pretty austere diet and a fun (and easy) dessert seems extra special. I know you’re happy in San Miguel. For the first time in more than 45 years, Mexico might not be happening for us this year, but we’re grateful for this special retreat of a home that we have in the Hondo valley, surrounded by old growth trees & birds and…..tranquility.
    much love,

    1. Thank you for writing, dear Susanna. I’m so happy to hear from you and to know that you and John are well and enjoying the tranquility of your home in Hondo. Maybe you’ll be able to make it back to Mexico next year. It will be here, waiting for you. — Love, Bonnie

  4. I am one of the lucky lucky neighbors who got to sample this slice of heaven. The crust was the buttery cookie of dreams and the topping was like a burst of summer in my mouth . Yummy

    1. Thank you for sharing your first-hand experience, dear Kharin. I hope WOW readers will try making this raspberry “pizza” tart — it’s SO easy and de-lish!

  5. Dear Bon,
    I never thought of raspberries as jewels, but now that you have alerted me to it, I realize how jewel-like they appear. Thank you for another delicious post with beautiful pictures.

  6. Another fun and sentimental post Bonnie. Thank you. Note, Julienne Smerlinder makes a special Rhubarb trip to Queratoro every year to the “City Market” (a La Comer owned store) at the Antea Mall
    I think she calls them during rhubarb season to confirm they have it.

    1. Thank you, Lyn! I wonder when Julienne will be making another rhubarb-run to QTO? Or whether she happens to have any frozen rhubarb in her freezer to spare? Next time you see or speak with her, could you ask for me, please? — Hope you and Lee are doing well.

  7. What a tasteful, and much needed retreat from the news of the world. And such a lovely tip of the hat to Melissa and her recipe for rhubarb/raspberry tart. I will definitely ask her about that recipe as I have some of her rhubarb waiting in my freezer.
    Be well and keep the hope

  8. I wanted to write to you for a while about Karen Tibodeaux in Taos. She and I were talking about the puppets she has made in the past with NYC children at a school she has subbed at for many yrs. TILL NOW. I thought you’d like to know each other and even mentioned how I’d like to visit you in Mx. with her! I’ve been busy moving back to Az. and just got around to sending her your WOW email. Maybe she’ll write to you… ( as a 23 y-old, my son was Prince Charming in her children’s play once in Taos)

    1. Thanks, Jamie. Yes, I’ve written quite a few WOW posts about my puppet-making (and love for puppets in general). Maybe she’d like to check them out (by going to the archives). And, yes, I look forward to your visit to SMA as soon as that’s possible. Best wishes back in AZ. — BB

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.