Tasty Past Times

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It’s strawberry time again! Supermarkets are selling a bumper crop at discount prices. I too, am revelling in a bumper crop, but by no means of the same proportions.

The little tiered planter-stand my husband commissioned for me, built by my clever son-in-law, is sprouting strawberry plants. Last year the plants produced very few strawberries. But this year when the flowers began, I knew it was going to be a bumper year.

It’s all a matter of proportion though. Overall, I would be lucky to get enough to fill a 500 gram punnet. Why would I bother you might ask, when I can get two punnets for the price of one in the supermarket at the moment?

Well, for me it’s not about the size of the crop. Or even the convenience of buying them from the store. It’s the delicious anticipation of tasting the past. Each morning I check the plants. Are there more flower buds? Are the green fruit any closer to turning luscious red? Perhaps I can hide the ripening berries beneath the leaves to trick marauders?

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When I was a child, like many families of the time, we grew most of the vegetables for our family’s needs. Our large backyard was orchard-like with cherry plums, apricots, peaches and a very climbable fig tree, crucial for when the figs ripened.We also had ducks and chooks for fresh eggs. I remember my mother ushering me indoors when it was time to ‘euthanize’ a rooster, or provide a chicken for the pot. Of course we didn’t use those terms then.

My dad would say, ‘it’s time to knock its head off ‘ which meant hearing him sharpen the axe on a foot-pedalled sandstone wheel in the woodshed, so the poor bird would be dealt with as humanely as possible on the wood-chopping block. As common as it was then, I rarely fail to conjure that image whenever I hear someone chopping wood. Even so, roast chicken never tasted so good.

Among the various vegetables we grew, there was also a large bed of strawberry plants. The raised rows were replenished with runners from the previous year and mulched liberally with hay or straw, which is where I had always imagined the name ‘strawberry’ originated, erroneously it seems. Strawberries are not actually berries either, but rather an aggregate accessory fruit.

Many memorable summer afternoons were spent picking the fruit for that evening’s dessert with more being dribbled down chins, devoured, or smeared on clothing, than ever went into the bowl. Served with Mum’s home-made ice cream, there was nothing quite like those strawberries.

I think of those times now when I pluck a ripe fruit and suck on it while I peruse my tiny courtyard garden. Somehow the aroma and flavour is so much better than commercially grown fruit. But even from my garden, strawberries have never tasted the way they did when I was a little girl.

 One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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28 responses to “Tasty Past Times

  1. i cant believe you have strawberries already. It must be all the sun you get. This year spring in the UK was dismal and all the strawberries on sale seemed to be imported. We are having a beautiful autumn though by way of compensation – for now at least. Enjoy the delights of each day.

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    • Strawberries seem to vary from season to season. They’ve been in the stores for a few weeks now. Glad you’re getting a lovely Autumn – my favourite season. Thank you Brenda. Delights are in season too.

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  2. It’s lovely to be able to grow – and ripen! – your own fruit. We haven’t been terribly successful here with our fruit, apart from tomatoes and some veg, such as potatoes, but I can’t eat either (intolerance to the edible nightshade family). Strawberries rarely make it to ripeness, not sure if it’s our weather or our soil or what. But,like you, I remember home grown strawberries from childhood – my mum grew them in a back bed in our garden and we did manage to get crops to eat.
    Oh, and my grandfather kept chickens, but only for their eggs. And I have very happy memories of eating very fresh drippy-yolk eggs picked up and boiled specially for me when I visited. 🙂

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      • Toast soldiers, definitely. Alas I was never allowed into the chicken houses so had to look at them from a distance. That said, their little ‘huts’ were close to three tiny ponds so I heard them a lot. (They didn’t fall in the ponds, btw.)

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      • Over-anxious mother, unfortunately. I was prevented from doing a lot of things that other children were able to do. Long, long story, not for here. 🙂 I love that you had a hen called Henny Penny. Did she worry about the sky falling down? (Or was that Chicken Little? I get confused.)

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      • Me too so I looked it up. It appears Henny Penny is known as Chicken Little in the USA. According to the source the various versions have their origins in a folk tale dating back 25 centuries. This from Wikipedia. Looking back I’m grateful for my free ranging childhood. Despite the dangers I seem to have escaped unscathed.

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  3. I know how you feel about strawberries. I used to pick the tiny wild ones when I was a child and they were absolutely delicious. Strawberries in supermarkets these days are often terrible. All the effort has gone into making them look attractive, but they taste like ice. 😦

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    • Ahhh the blackberries! Back then we could pick them beside the roads. No more though with councils spraying them with poison, so rampant have they become. Glad to have evoked some tasty memories for you Meggie.

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  4. We have a mulberry tree fruiting at the moment. And each day there are one or two ripe mulberries within reach. I’d have those any day over a punnet commercially grown. And for all the same reasons you’re savouring your strawberries 🙂

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  5. Very fond memories of strawberries you have there. I remember as a kid, I went strawberry picking with my family in a strawberry field somewhere in Victoria (near Melbourne). Earlier this year, I went to pick some strawberries with a friend and it brought back memories.

    In the supermarkets like Coles and Woolies around here, blueberries have been on sale recently…but not yet strawberries 🙂

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  6. Even though it”s pumpkin season here in New England, I could smell those strawberries and it took me back to spring time. I’ve tried to grow strawberries here in the woods of South Kingstown, but the chipmunks always beat me to the ripe ones first. Sometimes they do leave a half chewed one on the stem and I wonder, “What’s that all about? Are they mocking me or were they just too full to finish it?”
    PS I did not tell ZuZu about the chickens, as “Some of her best friends are hens”.

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