Ahh, strawberries – bundles of red fruity joy, mouthwateringly sweet and so versatile. I could live on strawberries alone, such is my passion for them.
I grew up in a ‘fruit and veg’ family, with all the menfolk working for years in wholesale produce. In my young days, you couldn’t walk into a supermarket or greengrocer and buy strawberries 365 days of the year, only during a very short season lasting between 6-8 weeks. There are no imports, no greenhouse-produced, just pure, unadulterated strawbs out in the air.
Eating strawberries as a child
As a child, I knew they appeared in the summer, around early June, and I would ask my father every day if they were ‘here’ yet. After days and days of saying no, the great day would arrive and he would come home with a car full of them in little wooden crates, ready for our hungry eyes and tummies to devour them. We would eat them until we were all but sick, honestly. When they started to go mushy, mum and granny would make them into delicious jams and other preserves, but that was after shortcakes, cakes, and other delights. Then, guess what? The next carload would arrive and we would start the procedure all over again!
The main growers of strawberries all those years ago were all situated in Kent in South East England. Kent is known as ‘The Garden of England’, with its prolific landscape bestowed with orchards for all types of fruit, but also hops, which makes Kent well known in the brewing industry. Everything seems to grow so well in this county and still does today, but unfortunately, due to the influx of imports on a grand scale, Kent strawberries may have become not so special – however, I know a real strawb when I see it, and nothing can replace that sweet and delicious morsel I have been eating for many years.
Try this Strawberry and Melon Fruit soup recipe here!
Some great facts on strawberries
I hate to disappoint you all, but strawberries are not a fruit – they are an ‘accessory fruit’, but that doesn’t mean you carry them around like a handbag or a red scarf. I am not overly sure what it means! Some boffin is trying to tell me that it means it’s a ‘false fruit’ or a ‘pseudo fruit’ and that ‘it’s a fruit in which some of the flesh is derived not from the ovary but from some adjacent tissue exterior to the carpel.’ I bet this guy has never eaten a strawb in his life, otherwise, he/she would know that it IS a fruit in my book. Strawbs have been here for thousands of years all over the world, so don’t tell me it’s not a fruit!
The Chinese don’t doubt it. The Romans believed them to have magical, medicinal properties and the American nation was among the first in the modern-day world to eat them. It is even more proof that they are berries, fruits, or whatever, but not accessories. Strawberries are grown in every state in the US, and every province in Canada, such to the population’s desire for our tasty friends. There is a dedicated museum for strawberries in Belgium – yes, the whole world loves them.
But the people of Delaware, USA, have got it to spot on. In May, every year (21st – 27th this year) it’s Strawberry Week. I don’t know about it than anyone else, but I am applying for immigration straight away! I would have to come back in June every year though. The last 2 weeks, sometimes slipping into July is the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament, renowned throughout the world as the No.1 on the tennis calendar. The strawberries and cream terrace is packed all day with people eating my favourites, it’s almost a national institution to buy tickets for Wimbledon and eat their strawberries! It is estimated that over 2 million strawbs are consumed each year during those 14 days. I think I must have been responsible for a great deal of those the last time I visited the tournament, pre-Covid.
I think you have the gist of my article now, my ‘raison d’etre’ in the summer. Anything I can add to my blissful musing? Ah yes, a large Pimms and Lemonade please, go heavy on the strawberries!