Strawberries – the other big red


Strawberries are in the shops in full force at the moment, with the ones from the island being sweeter, redder and better than those from the Costa Plastica (an immense tract of land somewhere in the south of Spain covered in enormous greenhouses). I was in the veg shack outside Santa Gertrudis de la Fruitera yesterday and they currently have HUGE quantities of these little mothers.

There are so many places you can stick strawberries. Jams, smoothies, cakes, ice creams and sorbets. Mashed up with yoghurt. You gotta wash ‘em though, before you start sticking them places ‘cos they absorb any kind of deterrent sprayed on them so you gots to wash them. Try adding a banana and some strawberries to your morning juice every day until the season is over – the juice will taste nicer, you will be happier and you will probably live longer too.

Strawberries now are different from when I was a little girl. I remember them to be much smaller and you could always pull the stalk right out. The green stalk would lead onto a tiny white-coned stem you could remove easily. Now that variety just doesn’t seem to be around. You have to cut out the stalk and any white bit of the fruit that may be there where the stalk meets the stem. Apparently the strawberry itself will taste sweeter if eaten without this white bit. Apparently.

I had the most extraordinary strawberry in La Paloma a while back – one of the sweetest things I have put in my mouth in some time. It had a stalk that came right out and was tiny and sweet like in days of old and it took me straight back to my childhood summers in Dorset. A bit like the madeleine in Remembrance of Things Past, except without the words.

A lot of people have started adding savoury stuff like Balsamic vinegar (not that savoury I guess) and black pepper to their strawbs. I would say I hold no store by this kind of chefwankery but it wouldn’t be true ‘cos I have it as a canape on some of my menus (in the form of a granita) and it is tres popular. I actually quite like it myself. Up to a point. It still grates with me though – the messing around with foodstuffs that just don’t need to be messed with. Best leave it to the boffins such as Heston Blumenthal or Ferran Adria. Those who have the time and resources to do such messing.

I do like to have one rule for me and one for everyone else…