JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The first strawberries

Ridiculous Mrs Elton, chattering her stream of consciousness at Mr Knightley's strawberry-picking party (I'm re-reading Jane Austen's Emma) ... she brought me up short this morning.

The best fruit in England - everybody's favourite - always wholesome. -These the finest beds and finest sorts. -Delightful to gather for one's self - the only way of really enjoying them. -Morning decidedly the best time - never tired - every sort good - hautboy infinitely superior - no comparison - the others hardly eatable - hautboys very scarce - Chili preferred
???!? Chili preferred ?!!!? - white wood finest flavour of all - price of strawberries in London - abundance about Bristol - Maple Grove - cultivation - beds when to be renewed - gardeners never to be put out of their way - delicious fruit - only too rich to be eaten much of - inferior to cherries - currants more refreshing - only objection to gathering strawberries the stooping - glaring sun - tired to death - could bear it no longer - must go and sit in the shade.

It turns out that until the mid-18th century, there were two sorts of strawberries, both wild: Chili and Virginian, and that these were accidentally crossed in France, the first genetic modification for what was ultimately to become the large modern strawberry. The process was clearly well under way by the early 19th century - Mrs E has several to choose from.

The ones I ate outside in the sunshine for breakfast were large, sweet and juicy, and grown in the next county. Obviously under a sea of plastic, but - well, who could resist them? The best fruit in England.

Best not to mock, even those who seem foolish.

Related posts

Eton Mess
Sir Walter Raleigh's strawberry vodka cordial
Innocent's strawberry smoothie recipe
Strawberry sponge

Links to strawberries on other blogs

Strawberry panzanella - 101 Cookbooks
Strawberry watermelon agua fresca
Strawberry sour cream bread - Closet Cooking


Magic Cochin said...

I try to resist strawberries until the English grown ones are in season. Better still to wait until the home grown ones are ready. Our strawberry patch is about to be mulched with straw and netted - a praelude to heavenly fruit! Mmmm! yum!


Joanna said...

Yes, I do too, in general, but sometimes ... it's too hard ... especially when you've just been reading Jane Austen ;)

I wish I was better at growing strawberries, we only grow tiny quantities in pots, otherwise it's slug heaven ;)


kathryn said...

That snippet is one of my favourite, favourite bits from Emma. We're way, way out of strawberry season here in Sydney. Enjoy your wonderful fruits.

Kevin said...

Those strawberries look good. I am impatiently waiting for the local strawberries to start showing up!