National Geographic : 2005 Jan
packed with other nutrients that some studies show will improve eyesight, reduce bad cholesterol, prevent urinary tract infections, and -ahem-keep one regular. Neff never mentions pie, and before I can bring up the subject he's heading back to the chore at hand: har vesting his biggest crop in 23 years, more than 200 tons of blueberries. He and his two grandsons climb aboard a machine that resembles an automated car wash on wheels-a blueberry har vester. As they head down a row, the machine seems to swallow the eight-foot bushes, its fingerlike rods combing the branches, tick ling ripe fruit into its belly. I pop a handful of berries into my mouth, savoring their tangy juice in the midday heat. As the harvester chugs toward the horizon, Herman Neff is silhouetted against the blue sky. With his long beard and hat, he cuts the figure of a latter-day Ahab, cruising high above his 1 seaof blueberries on a quest for a Moby Dick-size crop. While considering this thought, I recall that Ahab's first mate was named Starbuck. My own quest culminates near the end of Hot Coffee Road, where I at last find a satisfng cup at Martha's Kitchen, an old-fashioned dining hall used for family reunions and other events. It's run by the Diehl family, who as Old Order German Baptists shun most modern conveniences, including electricity, telephones, and cars. "It's not that we believe these things are wrong," explains Martha, the daughter for whom the dining hall is named, "but they can create unnecessary temptations." The Diehls don't seem to mind tempting me with food. Family matri arch Edith Diehl, dressed in a long skirt and a white bonnet despite the Mississippi heat, has laid in front of me a wedge of coconut macaroon Martha Diehl (above) serves members of the Stevens family, who drove an hour and a half to Indulge in roast beef and corn bread salad, cinna mon pears and coconut macaroon pie-all served family style at Martha's Kitchen, an old-fashioned dining hall on the Diehls' farm. As Old Order German Baptists, Martha's parents, Bill and Edith (left), raised their five children to dress modestly and shun most modern amenities, including electricity and phones. The Diehls rely on propane stoves and ovens to cook food. For reservations, guests mall in requests-or stop by for a chat.