It is a funny thing about flavor, with strawberries. There's not much left to be said about the deficiencies of the steroidal supermarket berry. The best strawberries I ever tasted were from a pick-your-own place in rural Suffolk, near the home of some elderly cousins. They were so delicious, all through their entirely red interiors, so fragrant and heady, that I felt a bit light-headed, actually. I assumed this was merely because they were home-grown, fresh, ripe, and unrefrigerated. Certainly, these were important factors. Later, though, I grew some strawberries of my own, when I had a garden. I was surprised to discover that although they were definitely superior to store berries, they were not a patch on the Suffolk ones.
The difference was sufficiently great that I had no doubt that it was real, rather than the rosy glow of a holiday memory. I had tried to choose a type of strawberry that had not been bred for commerce and storage, but that hadn't completely done the trick. Later, I went to a western PA pick-you-own strawberries place. I got lots of berries and permanently pink knees on my jeans (kind of a nice memento, really). They were good, but not as good as my backyard berries, and certainly less wonderful than my enshrined ideal berry. I have come to the entirely unscientific conclusion that the soil in which the strawberries are grown must be a big factor.
There was a little container of real strawberries in my farmbox this week. They were really very nice berries. It's funny, but some of the berries taste more wonderful than others in the same box. Mysterious. If I had a lot of these, I'd be making jam, tarts, ice cream. But I first I would have had to enjoy some just plain. Since I didn't have enough to cook with, I decided to make a bit of a fuss over having the lot, straight from the box.
This is hardly a recipe at all. It appears in Cuisina Fresca, by Viana La Place, credited to a musician friend-hence the name. The berries are washed, stems left on, air dried and placed in a serving bowl. On each person's plate goes one Tbsp of white sugar, with about 2 tsps of balsamic vinegar poured carefully over the sugar, to form a paste. The berries are dipped in the mixture, and you have some very strong espresso with it . It is, of course, not to be attempted with giant supermarket strawberries that taste like raw potatoes. Other than that, you really can't go wrong.
And I'm consoling myself for my failure to make strawberry jam. I ordered 2 jars of strawberry rhubarb jam from Bakerina Kitchens, a little on line shop of wonderful homemade preserves by the lovely and clever Bakerina.If you want some, you'd better hurry up, as she has only got about 30 jars.