Do you have a food that makes you so giddy you feel almost drunk when you eat it? Mine is strawberries.
This isn't comfort food. This is something so much more powerful.
Strawberries make me feel hopeful. They make me shimmy involuntarily and grin in a way that's almost embarrassing. Whenever I have them, I think everything is going to be okay, because how could things not turn out alright when something so beautiful exists?
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The first day of strawberries is the happiest day of the year, and I do my best not to miss it. Starting mid-May, I stalk the greenmarket every day. I get there as early as possible in hopes of beating out the chefs who will certainly buy all of them before the normal people have a chance.
The thought alone has helped keep me going through messy, confusing, and unpleasant times: "Soon strawberries will be here and things are going to feel better," I tell myself. It's good to have something to look forward to, even better when you can really count on it being there for you. The seasons are pretty reliable, give or take a few weeks.
The first day of strawberries happened last week (it was Friday, and it was an especially pretty day, to boot). When people asked about my plans for the weekend, my response was "Strawberries are here." I know that really isn't a plan, but I bought myself two quarts and really couldn't think beyond enjoying my favorite fruit.
Since living alone and figuring out my life post-marriage, people keep suggesting I take up yoga and meditation, and I just can't get into either. But I think sitting with a mound of strawberries has the same effect. Everything slows down, I am so focused, and I feel so much gratitude. I think it's my practice in mindfulness. Cooking has a therapeutic and meditative effect, too, but the first taste of strawberries outshines that—by a lot.
I'll admit that my appreciation is a bit extreme. I do things like leave the A.C. on when I go out of the house to keep the strawberries happy (only on really hot days). One of my closest friends said she was glad strawberries showed up because I've been blue lately, and now she knows I'll be good for the next few months. There's a noticeable difference, and I don't understand why they have such power. I've been told that the main craving my mother had when she was pregnant with me was for strawberries, so maybe there's something really biological there. They're my most effective pick-me-up. Aren't we lucky that food can do this for us?
I'm perfectly content to eat strawberries as-is, and will mostly do just that all summer, but I'd love to know how other people plan to make the most of the season. I've got a lot of quarts in my future, and I'll be making way through them mostly alone (and very happy).
Tell us the best thing you make with strawberries in the comments below.