Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Appreciation (32) … Wild strawberries – the taste, not a movie

Appreciation (32) … Wild strawberries – the taste, not a movie
Torrey Orton
Nov.30, 2010

It is a story I've told dozens of times: the taste of wild strawberries on an early summer mountainside… in the Massif des Bauges, south-eastern France, June 2005. What I didn't tell includes…

... that there was a dog from the neighbourhood (local dairy farm on the mountain side where we parked before the walk) which accompanied us almost to the top of our climb, then turned back and went home… 4 hours later seen hanging out in the parking lot at the farm...

… that there were four of us walking together for the first time, learning the pacing of our different styles, only one of us in reasonable shape (the other guy who tended to jog up the mountains effortlessly)...

…that it was early summer - the trees fully leafed, brooks still running strong with snow melt (not Cauterets strong, but for our first alpinish event in 10 years and from Melbourne, strong)…

…that I saw these slight red spots along the dirt roadside amidst otherwise lighter shades of green, hanging in the way strawberries hung when I picked them as a 10 year old for local producers in Lunenburg but this a trace of memory not consciously searching, nor on looking close did they appear at all like commercial berries, but there was enough lookalike to pull me down from looking forward, to stop me ambling along, to pull slightly aside the greenery which already seemed strawberryish…

…and, that they tasted like no strawberry I had ever known (nor since as well, having searched the slopes of three other alpinish ranges vainly since then to find their relatives - French, Spanish or Italian: rien, zilch, diddlysquat, etc.!). They had an almost vinous depth – no nose, but distinctive middle and finish. They were so slight (1/10 the size of a commercial strawberry) that there was almost no body; rather, they melted than crunched or squished.

Occasionally I have an apricot from our tree here that is precisely ripe and at an appropriate temperature which brings an acute taste and slight nose, reminding me of real fruit from those 55 years ago which were fresh. I did not know they were all manmade to some extent. Wild apples were hard to find in Massachusetts in the 1950's. Wild meant grows outside the house??

Strawberries anyone.

1 comment:

  1. Torrey,

    If you are going to grow stawberries in Australia put them under a good shade cloth. Part of the reason these mountain ones are so good is that they don't get much sun, well at least I suspect. I hope to find a couple more this coming weekend.