Saturday, June 9, 2012
I was surprised to see true local strawberries, the kind we get for a brief few weeks in June in Little Compton, at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago. Since commercial strawberries have gone the way of tomatoes in recent years—giant mutants, red outside and all white and fibrous within, tasteless, mealy—I really don’t eat them except when they are local and just-picked. This is another way of saying I only eat the real deal. No fake fruit for me.
The berries were from Yuma, of western movie fame. You may remember from seeing either the old or the new version of 3:10 to Yuma (both very good) that the sun is pretty steady there, to say the least: Yuma describes itself, apparently with accuracy, as having “more sunshine than any city on earth.” Strawberries like that. These were fragrant and juicy, and red right through, as a strawberry should be. I’ve always thought that strawberries needed a little cool moisture to set right, so maybe the fact that Yuma is on the Colorado River—yes, rivers do run through deserts—provides just enough to do the trick. Or the farmers irrigate. Whatever, these berries were delicious.
And they were cheap: a nostalgic, like the berries themselves, $2.50 a pint. Had I not been on my way out of town, I would have bought tons and made jam and shortcake . I bought only two pints, promptly ate one out of hand, dipping a few in heavy cream and demerara sugar, and, after briefly considering marinating them for one of my favorite quick desserts, pureed and froze the other. It is all relative, but even here in AZ, we have a kind of winter. There are few more hopeful reminders that spring will come again than taking something berryish from the freezer on a cold winter night. The taste of summer is always something to look forward to.