image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy
Strawberries are nature’s way of preventing humans living in colder climates from committing suicide during the winter. The promise, the thought of them can keep a person going through the darkest days.
While the winter berries from Florida are a nice try, they just don’t measure up to the ones ripened in the summer sun and not subjected to a ride in a refrigerated truck. The full moon in June is known in indigenous circles as the strawberry moon. The real strawberries, the warm juicy ones just from the field are available at farmers’ markets now. It’s best to eat them standing barefoot in the grass, or better yet, having them fed to you, or feeding them to someone.
That is how the humans came to be according to the creation stories of the Cherokee. The Supreme Goddess had created First Man and First Woman, then placed them on earth. All was blissful until the first couple had the first dust-up. First Woman walked off in a huff with First Man frantically trying to catch up with her. The Goddess looked down, and knew that she had to do something to slow First Woman down. And so She created the first strawberry plant and quickly put it in First Woman’s path. First Woman stopped. Gently, she touched the crimson globes hanging from the stems. They emitted a scent as sweet as the warmth of the day. She plucked one and nibbled on it. She plucked another and as she enjoyed that began to think of First Man and the joys they had shared together. By then, First Man had caught up with her. She fed him a few strawberries and, well…now you know where humans came from.
Even in situations where one may not be able (ahem) to express one’s self openly, strawberries still make for a luscious dessert. Fruit that’s been macerated in wine is a common summer dessert in the Mediterranean region. Slice the strawberries into a bowl, pour a light red wine over them, add sugar (this will vary with the sweetness of the berries and the wine) and let them sit until well acquainted. Works great with a sparkling wine like prossecco, too.
For the celebrations of Canada Day (July 1) and US Independence Day (July 4), you might need to come up with a more G-rated dessert for family picnics and barbecues. Strawberry shortcake goes well with whipped cream. Just slice up some berries and let them macerate in some sugar or stevia for a couple of hours to get them good and juicy. While that’s happening, make a batch of baking powder biscuits. When they’re done, split in two, fill with the berries, and spoon on some whipped cream. If you want to up the ante, put a scoop of vanilla or strawberry ice cream between the biscuit halves.
If you need to capture the feeling of a summer day to inoculate yourself from the dark cold days, try making preserves. Aunt Google will help you find a recipe, or you can ask an older relative or your county extension service. Strawberries do not take kindly to freezing. Instead of ruby red drops of summer, you get tasteless mush when they thaw. There is plenty of cold and slush to deal with outside. You don’t need it on your oatmeal.
However you decide to celebrate the strawberry, don’t forget the whipped cream. Not on the berries and wine, but the shortcake wants the whipped cream. It just wouldn’t be shortcake without it, and it just wouldn’t be summer with out shortcake or strawberries.