Monday, October 29, 2012

Fruits of the Forest

"A berry must be a fruit which contains stones, pips, things . . . there must be more than one."
(Source: Stephen Fry QI Series 3.10)

Blackberry, strawberry, raspberry are all not berries.

But a banana is...




Stephen: What I want you to do now is to name a berry.

Alan: Blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry--

[Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash, in succession, the words "BLACKBERRY", "STRAWBERRY", and "RASPBERRY".]

Stephen: Oh, that's fantastic! Hold on for a moment, 'cause we've got a lot of catching-up to do. [counts on fingers] Blackberry, strawberry, raspberry.

Mark: Isn't a banana . . . isn't a banana a berry?

Stephen: Banana . . . I will give you good points for that. It is a berry, yeah.

Clive: Oh, what sort of bizarre definition of the word "berry" does it mean--

Stephen: That of people who study fruits, essentially. Of course--

Clive: I'm afraid we, of the speakers of English--

Stephen: I know, but you know this is QI. Come on.

Alan: Apple.

Clive: But it always strikes me as an unfair system you operate, here.

Stephen: Then don't come and join us ever again. But . . . but . . . This is the way we do things.

Clive: So, bananas are a berry, but a strawberries are not a berry.

Mark: Why is a banana a berry?

Stephen: A berry must be a fruit which contains stones, pips, things . . . there must be more than one.

Alan: Is a tomato a berry, then?

Stephen: A tomato is a berry, yeah. What are raspberry, a loganberry, a blackberry--

Alan: Tomato.

Stephen: They're separate little things called "drupe sacs"--

Clive: Yes . . .

Stephen: --rather pleasingly--

Alan [makes a face that plainly shows he is trying to hold in laughter]

Stephen: --and each one contains . . . [to Alan] I know . . .

I wondered why you were forging ahead with it!

Clive: Yeah.

Stephen: Each one, each "drupe sac", contains one little seed.

Clive: Yes. So they're a collection of berries.

Stephen: So they are a coll— . . . Well, no, not berries, because there's only one of them, you see, so . . . An apple is a berry, 'cause it's got lots of pits.

Mark: An apple is a berry.

Clive: Yes.

Stephen: But a plum isn't, because it's only got one stone.

Alan: Banana's a berry? An apple's a berry?

Stephen: Tomatoes, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, watermelons, kiwifruit, cucumbers, grapes--

Alan: Squirrel shit.

Stephen: --passion fruit, papaya--[drums hands on desk, and gestures appreciatively at Alan]. Excellent!

Clive: Pomegranates!

Stephen: A pomegranate's a very good one.

Clive: I mean, that's the berry par excellence.

Mark: Gooseberry.

Stephen: Gooseberry is a berry, yes, I think.

So that's the only berry that has got "berry" in it.

Stephen: A blueberry, actually, is a berry, as well.

Mark: Right.

Clive: But what is a strawberry, then, because it's got its . . . its seeds on the outside. If it's not a berry, what is it?

Stephen: It is a kind of drupe-y thing, I believe. I know it sounds weird.

Clive: But if I go to The Green Grocers--

Stephen: It's a drupe.

Clive: "Can you give me some drupe-y things?" It's not a . . . it's not--

Mark: A strawberry is a . . . a mammal, surely.

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