I read a blog about a family that went strawberry picking and of course memories came flooding in.
I had been in love with strawberries ever since I knew they existed. Growing up in hot South India, I had never tasted one, and yet I loved the luscious red of the strawberries I saw in recipe books. I would pour over my mother's "foreign" recipe books and imagine myself eating this one creation called the 'strawberry bombe'.
When I was 11 years old, my parents went to Switzerland to attend a Christian seminar for a month. And then since they were in Europe the decided to make use of the god given opportunity and the genorisity of overseas friends and relatives to tour a few countries in Europe. When they asked me what I wanted, I asked for 3 things.
* Sand/soil from every place they visited. (So that I could out it on the floor, walk over it and say I've touched foot on Swiss, Italian, German and English soil)
* A denim skirt with a slit ( It was in fashion then!)
* Strawberries, or at least a picture of strawberries in a bush.
(You ask me again, and my list would surely be different!)
Now my parents sent me a picture of a strawberry bush they saw in Switzerland. But by the time they reached England - the last leg of their tour, strawberry season was almost over! Now my parents felt terrible about not bringing me straberries and so on their last day there, they somehow managed to source a small box of strawberries. How they managed tot get it through the security, an intercontinental flight and 2 transits is still a mystery. I guess airport security then was nothing like it is today. They actually carried it in a little plastic bag all the way from Heathrow to Madurai Airport.
When I finally got the box in my hands, my mother warned me. "Mole, this isn't very sweet. ok? It tastes a bit like mulberries" . It didn't matter to me that out of the 15 odd strawberries in the box only 6 were edible. Of course I felt bad, and I had to share it with my cousins. But I took one in my hand, held it by its stalk and bit in. As the tart pink juiciness filled my mouth, I knew one thing. All those strawberry flavored Arun Icecreams I had had in the past had got it all wrong. The real thing was fantabulously better!
My cousins didn't like it too much and my grandmother didn't understand what the fuss was all about. " Oh puliyum ichera mathiram um ondu. Thats all" (Oh its sour and a little sweet.) But for me, the scent of strawberries , albeit a little stale lingered in my mind. I used the small plastic container to hold my hairclips for a while.
When I was 13, we spent our summer break in Orissa at my aunt's mission hospital. And there they had a whole strawberry patch! I spent lazy evening strawberries right off the bush to my hearts content.**
My love affair with strawberries continues. Now that I am older, and thanks to globalization, I see fresh strawberries in my fruit and vegetable shop every week and at any time of the year! It still is quite expensive and I cannot afford strawberries on a regular basis. But every once in a while, I treat myself and Nanma to some yummy homemade strawberry lassi or frozen yogurt.
** Pictures courtesy Spoonful blog