strawberry fields forever
Strawberries grew wild for centuries and were enjoyed by many Europeans, albeit much smaller in size than we have now. But they were first cultivated in France in the 1750s (leave that to the French). Like many other fruits originally valued as medicinal and mentioned in ancient Roman writings, they were depicted in oil paintings by Renaissance artists during the 15th century (a small snack, perhaps?). It seems that they were consumed as a cure-all for depression (who can feel sad when he has sweet berries to eat?).
Gathered in the woods by early settlers, enthusiastic President Thomas Jefferson experimented with different varieties in his vast gardens as early as 1789, serving them up at grand dinner parties to the delight of his guests. His frustration was the small size at the time, still a strain of the alpine variety he brought home from France. Fortunately, horticulturists and growers continued to work to produce a larger size and, of course, eventually succeeded.
But Americans aren’t the only country that appreciates this delicious red fruit. They are a tradition at the annual Wimbledon tennis tournament in England and are served with cream. In Italy, strawberries are a favorite ice cream flavor. The Greeks like to dip them in sugar and then roll them in brandy. Japan is still experimenting with dozens of varieties, which were originally very expensive and only available to royalty. During the 1930s their production increased dramatically and they now rank as one of the world’s leading producers.
Needless to say, America’s love affair with the strawberry is legendary, as we far exceed any other country in production and use, producing 1.5 million tons a year, a third of the world’s production. Translating to just over £9 per American in consumption, here’s what tops the US chart:
Marmalade – America’s Favorite Flavor
Fruit cake – with sponge cake or sponge cake, topped with whipped cream, a classic
Magpie – either fresh (with a sugar glaze) or baked, often with rhubarb
icy – in the popular Neapolitan (with chocolate and vanilla) or alone
Yogurt – fruit in the background or mixed
smoothies – mixed and tasty
Colleagues good with bananas
Fresh – plain, sliced and sugared or as a topping
chocolate covered – a candy and fruit in one
Sliced – in breakfast cereals and pancakes
Hardy and easy to grow, the plants also make an attractive ground cover, although local critters like to sneak into backyards and devour the fruit when the shoreline is clear. They also freeze well and can be enjoyed year-round.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a region where strawberries are grown, a pleasant outing is to visit a pick-your-own field, although it’s exhausting in the blazing sun and puts a strain on your back, it’s worth doing once (and all you need). can eat in the process). So be sure to pick up a quarter or two on your next visit to the local grocery store or farmer’s market. The best ones are fresh, ripe and tasty.