Strawberries are Red Damnit – (Mostly Recycled)

June 6, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Why Showcase Something that Does Not Look Like a Strawberry?

Anyone within an earshot of me this week knows it’s been a rather dreadful week for the Local Family due to some unnamed poltergeist and the very strange lock and key procedures of one Toyota Motors. I’ve been planning on posting all week, a little tirade against farmer’s markets without farmers. Given that my ire for such issues has barely subsided (just replaced with bigger ires of the week), I will get that up soon. In the meantime, it is the time of year to crank out one of my favorite diatribes. This is a slightly re-worked version of something I wrote in my pre-Beet days.

I know someone who absolutely loathes the cafe/bakery Bittersweet on Belmont–a place that gets by these days without an ounce of foodie love or reference. I always think of that person, her story, when I think of Bittersweet. And I always think of Bittersweet when I think of strawberries. This is the time of year I’m thinking about Bittersweet and strawberries. See, nine times out of ten, if you shop/eat at Bittersweet, you will see something done with strawberries. It will be very pretty, exactly sliced, glazed with apricot preserves in the French style, showcased. A perfect, ideal example of what a strawberry is not. Because strawberries are red.

What I see too often is not red. The Bittersweet strawberries on display will look not too different from candy canes, perhaps a chioggia beet if we’re being trendy. That is white with some red in there. Once sampled, that berry will taste, well at times there may be a fleeting sample of that light red flavor, not quite cherry, that is called strawberry, but mostly they will taste like fruity potatoes. Strawberries should be red. Ripe. Like amply found at now at Chicago area farmer’s markets.

A lot of produce sings farmers market to me: heirloom tomatoes, concord grapes, sugar snap peas, but strawberries top them all. It is a product so rooted in local and seasonal and so abused by our industrial food chain. Let me skip the rest of the details. Just get yourself to a farmers market soon. The strawberry season is short.

What color will your strawberries be this week?