Thursday, April 17, 2008

They're Back!

What's not to love? Sweet, juicy, versatile, with seeds that don't get stuck between my teeth, strawberries are high on my list of the Best Foods in Life, only slightly below coffee ice cream and lamb curry.

In Western New York where I lived for 20+ years, strawberry season is two fragrant weeks in the middle of June when the berries ripen. The whole air near the berry patches smells strongly of strawberries and everyone saves a piece of cardboard to sit on while scooting along the rows, filling box after box with sweet fruit. The little kids who are recruited to help with the picking emerge from the fields with pink juice smeared around their mouths and guilty grins. Mischievous teenagers sneak into the fields at night to steal berries and berry-flavored kisses. Housewives make jam, serve nothing but strawberry desserts for those happy weeks, and freeze some for later consumption. It's all about hurry-up-and-get-em-while-they're-ripe! Then they are gone for another year, leaving us with a few gemlike jars of jam and a sweet memory.

One of the most delightful discoveries for me when I moved to California was that strawberry season runs roughly from the end of April to the end of October with fragrant, ripe, luscious berries appearing in the markets and roadside stands all that time. When the berries are ripe, they announce themselves from 20 feet away with that wonderful smell; if the aroma doesn't transport me back to WNY, it's a fool's errand to buy them. They may look gorgeous but I'm not deceived - the scent's the important cue!

My favorite way to eat them, although they really need no embellishment at all, is to dip them in creme fraiche, then in turbinado sugar and pop the whole sweet, savory, fresh, smooth, fruity, crunchy bite into my mouth.

That first year in California, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Twelve years later, I still think so.

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4 Comments:

Blogger namastenancy said...

Are we on the same wavelength or what? I had a late lunch and was not hungry for a "real" dinner but I had a bowl of strawberries in the fridge. I let them come to room temperature because they taste better when a bit warm (IMHO) and ate them with a bit of Turbindo sugar and the 2% Greek yogurt.
Utterly yummy!

Thursday, April 17, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

NamasteNancy, you and I are obviously twins who were separated at birth in some Navy hospital where the orderly made a mistake! :-)

Friday, April 18, 2008  
Blogger namastenancy said...

Were you born in Long Beach, CA? if so, that utterly cinches it. Right now, I'm just waiting for my ride to the studio. Art opening tonight!

Friday, April 18, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

NamasteNancy, well, my parents told me I was born in Patuxent River, MD but maybe they lied to cover up the loss of the other twin? :-)

Friday, April 18, 2008  

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