Monday, May 21, 2007

A taste one never forgets


My parents would come wake me just after dawn on those blurry summer mornings. The air was still crisp and cool, with a heavy dew weighing down the grass under my feet. As the sun rose, a shadowy light encompassed the pristine green fields – rows and rows of fresh, ripe strawberries just waiting to be picked. I never particularly liked the picking part – my hands would get scratched and sore and I was still drowsy from the stolen hours of sleep. But I did like the results of the picking – the most flavorful, colorful, juicy strawberries you could ever eat, perfect for pies, shortcakes, on cereal, or even just on their own.

My parents stopped going to the “pick them yourself” strawberry fields eventually, mainly because supermarket strawberries became more and more affordable, and somehow it just wasn’t worth the price of gas (or the sound of whining children) to drive an hour or two out of town to get fresh strawberries. Supermarket berries just never tasted the same. Sure they were good, they were strawberries after all, but they didn’t have that rich, juicy – almost electric – flavor of a fresh picked berry.

It has been years - twenty? twenty-five? – since I’ve tasted such a strawberry, but the memory of it has remained in my taste buds. At the beginning of May, a new produce shop opened up right across the street from us, and when we bought our first strawberries there, I thought they looked extremely fresh. When I took my first bite I knew – these weren’t any ordinary supermarket strawberries, these babies were fresh picked, probably the same day! What paradise had I stumbled upon?

My husband and I can’t get enough of these berries. They are so delicious, so juicy, so fabulous. And just for a second they take me back to sleepy summer mornings in Tennessee, when I would steal a fresh picked strawberry from the bag in the back seat of the car and pop it into my mouth, before curling up and falling asleep for the long drive back home.


amerimom said...

Interesting that your post is about strawberries today. I say this as I went shopping for food today and picked up two packages of fresh strawberries, tomorrow we will have strawberry shortcake.

Two summers ago while in Italy we were eating cherries that were in season. Coming home and finding cherries at our store in the USA I picked some up. After taking one bite I threw all of the others away. They just didn't taste as good as the ones we had in Italy. Want to get back to Italy around summer time again to taste some more of the cherries. Nothing compares to fresh picked fruits.

melusina said...

Strawberry shortcake for everyone! I love it so much, and my husband had never heard of such a thing until he married me. Greeks just don't know what to do with their produce (when I wanted to buy some zucchini to make zucchini bread, the produce seller looked at me like I was insane - they don't make breads with stuff like that here).

Fresh fruits and produce are definitely a boon of living in Europe. We get lazy sometimes and just get grocery store produce, but with a place right across the street there are no excuses anymore. The prices are nice too - I can come home with a bag filled to the brim with various fruits and vegetables for a few euros.

CaliforniaKat said...

When I arrived here 10 years ago, it seemed to be that everything tasted better because (I'm told) of exposure to the Mediterranean. Carrots were sweeter, cherries were more luscious and strawberries were juicier. I took delight in my oranges molding after 2 days because it meant they weren't treated.

Sometimes, I encounter a strawberry or two that taste like nothing, but at least cherries, melons and carrots meet my impossibly high standards ;)

I still miss things like cantaloupe, baby carrots, blueberries (wah!), orange jewel yams, and fresh tomatillos and 10 types of chiles for salsa, but I feel very lucky to get such fresh and simple local fruits and vegies from the manabis for free.

JennDZ said...

Now all you need to do is dip them in fresh whipped cream or some dark chocolate and it will be so decadent!