It shouldn’t be this easy! Two years ago, I shoveled a few scoops of strawberry plants from my mother’s strawberry bed, threw them in a trash bag and then dug them the next day into my garden bed. The few grew into many, even engulfing the mint. If you can crowd out mint, you are some awesomely aggressive plant, like kudzu in the South. But who’s complaining? Not me!
Day after day in late May and early June, I pluck these sweet little rubies. Some I pick a little too early, because if I don’t pick them when I find them, the birds, chipmunks or bugs will take their portion. For some, it’s too late — they’re soggy or even shriveled. But most — as Goldilocks might have said if she were a farm laborer and not a home invader — are just ripe!
After a week, I start thinking: I’ll skip today. It does hurt the back to squat and bend so much, plus there are little creatures scattering in the leaf litter. But then I remember how fleeting is the strawberry season. I’m back on my haunches, gratefully poking through the leaves again. We’re wired to be hunter gatherers, so I get a little rush whenever I see a flash of red.
Some members of the household were a little suspicious at first of eating something that grew like a weed. These berries weren’t like the huge ones that come in a plastic box. But they were won over by the intense sweetness, and the fact that I’d already picked, washed, plucked off the leaves and presented the strawberries in a bowl.
For strawberry recipes, go to www.epicurious.com. But the best way to eat them is popping them into your mouth. Nirvana.