Thursday, May 17, 2012

The first strawberries!


At the Borough Hall Farmers Market this afternoon, sold by Kernan Farms, from New Jersey. The first one I tasted five minutes ago swept me right back to the stretch of road in the forest between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, where a man with a beard once lived in a real old wooden gypsy caravan and sold the strawberries he grew in a cleared field, flanked by walls of old trees. For years after he disappeared we would still stop and hunt the rapidly rising new growth to discover the sweet red berries. I collected them once in a tiny pillow slip that my mother had sewn for one of my bears, who always traveled with me. A red juice stain crept through the soft cream fabric.

These are real, perfumed strawberries, worth the long, long wait. Our evening roof drink will be strawberries,  red wine and ice, somehow. A delicate, buttery pastry is about to be made. Something simple, with heaps of the fruit in the middle, on a soft pile of sour cream laced with sugar.

It's May.

13 comments:

  1. Charming post! Those berries look perfect!

    "Tra la! It's May!
    The lusty month of May!
    That lovely month when ev'ryone goes
    Blissfully astray."

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  2. We are rolling in berries from the CSA- the third week of four quarts - heaven! love your recipe idea and made the bad mistake of telling Mitchell. I think pastry is in my future - very near future!

    Enjoy yours!

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  3. Your words and picture made my mouth water with the anticipation of strawberries promised at the Farmers Market this Saturday. Simply delicious.

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  4. oh oh I love that you still hunted for strawberries even after the disappeared. enjoy, enjoy. here in london, spring is even more elusive than real and proper strawberries. still, there are buttercups and the first roses, I will admit to those!

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  5. You are so lucky. The only fresh berries we can get are blueberries. I'm not sure why. All our berries are imported from Ca. They are ok but nothing like the berries I've tasted up north. Enjoy for me. BTW, my favorite jam is black current. I've never had fresh, only imported from England. Oh what a treat...

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  6. Wait! Wait! This post needs to be in your book! I think there's gonna have to be a second book...

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  7. I love seeing strawberries at the farmers market. Makes me want to make jam!

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  8. My father owned a real Gypsy caravan which he kept in Knysna. He bought it originally in England as a present for his wife and shipped it to SA in 1972. He was a bit of a dreamer and had purchased a small holding between plet and knysna the idea of starting a small fruit farm. The land he purchased had to be cleared of stinkwood trees. His dream of being a farmer failed and he and his wife started an antiques business in Knysna with the caravan parked outside. The strawberries must have been his although I cannot remember him having a beard - big belly yes - beard no

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  9. Anonymous - Good heavens! My childhood memory could easily be wrong, regarding his beard. How amazing to be in touch with 'The Strawberry Man's' child :-) Thank you!

    Are you perhaps in Knysna?

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  10. Son of Strawberry man - The saga- His Memsahib and I didnt see eye to eye and I never visited Knysna. All I have recounted is from his letters that he wrote to me. Perhaps he did have a beard if he was living out of the caravan. He was English and flew spitfires from 1940-45. Fed up with bombed out England he emigrated to Kenya where I was born. It was heaven. In 1956 we all emigrated to Canada which was toooo cold and we were always broke. So at 3am we did a moonlight flit south across the border in an old dodge auto-mobile fleeing the rent man. Sshhh you mustn't make any noise. I remember a U boat submarine outside a big building in Chicago and staying in a wigwam motel and the grand canon and Roy Rogers who was my hero. San Francisco then Vancouver then a ship across the Pacific - Honolulu Fiji Auckland Sydney - Tasmania here we come. Hobart and the roaring forties - awful. Dad can't we go home? Ye-pee! Super Constellation to Singapore KL Bombay Nairobi back in heaven but very broke. Round the world before I was eight. Pop got a job in Yemen! Mother got fed up and ran off with an accountant. Hence new Memsahib - long story - now about your strawberries........

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  11. Son of Strawberry Man - I don't suppose you're writing the book? You write very well. So did your father stay put in Knysna with the antiques store and the horrible Memsahib? Where are you now?

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  12. A book - why not - shades of Red - Red is for its blood soaked earth. Red is for its sunsets hovering in the sky over which it rules. Red is for the scorched earth that is AFRICA. Its sweat scented earth will capture your soul never to let go. If you should leave you be haunted by its ghosts. On your return as you step off the plane you will take a deep breath and savour the scent of Africa and thank your maker that you are truly home. The taste of those strawberries is drawn from the African soil and is now etched on your soul. It is that soil that becomes so bountiful and wondourous when it rains. The sound of rain falling in Africa far surpasses any symphony. It is the greatest sound on earth. Each rain drop that hits the red dust creates a magical potion that is scented far sweater than any flower. There is no sound nor scent that can compare with that of african rain. Alas, I will never go home. I will never stand in the rain on african soil and hear and smell the soul of mankind. That is why we went around the world - we coudn't find anywhere to equal. My father now flys with the eagles

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  13. Mr Groombrdge I believe!

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