Monday, July 18, 2011
On Sunday evening while I was cooking some chicken outside on the coals, I picked strawberries. Because the leaves are so full, there were more ripe red berries than I had anticipated, hiding beneath them, and soon I had an overflowing handful. These joined another small bowlful in the kitchen, saved from two days ago.
I hulled them (does anyone say this anymore?) and shook some brown sugar over them. My plan was to let the sugar draw their juice out and then to mix them into some lightly whipped cream for dessert. But I didn't get that far. I tasted one. I had picked them very, very ripe, the kind of ripe that would crush if transported to market. They were dark red, through and through, fat with juice, their scent strong. I ate another, and another. Standing in the kitchen, Vince in the next room writing, cat asleep on the floor beside me, chicken outside cooking.
I ate them all, all alone, before dinner. They were the best strawberries I have ever eaten.
I am a hundred times happier with this year's strawberries. Perhaps because I have three times as many as I did last year, thanks to their prolific runners, but also because I am leaving them longer on their stems.
I think I have always picked or eaten them too early. I think that is why I have never liked strawberries. Now I know. Leave them till deeply, darkly red. I can't wait for more.