SARAH: This may come as no surprise to most of you out there in Eaterland: I love sweet things. I love baking, but actually eating sweet things comes a close second. Whether it’s sweet pickles or a grilled dessert with whipped cream, a little sweet goes a long way for me. And artificial, over-the-top sweetness doesn’t cut it — the closer a food to the sweetness of nature, the better.
AMY: And nothing from nature is sweeter than berries. And among them, perhaps nothing is more perfect than the strawberry.
SARAH: … A perfectly red and freckled little strawberry …
AMY: I admit, I like blueberries and raspberries a bit more, but who can resist these darling little heart-shaped, tasty, get-your-floss-out staples. Not I!
SARAH: When asked what I love most about summer, these little berries always top my list. They evoke so much emotion and nostalgia for me, from memories of picking berries on a farm back in Northwest Pennsylvania to the yummy shortcakes we turned to in the heat and humidity, hoping it might cool us off.
Strawberries really do bring a sweet smooch to the kisser. Just think of all the desserts you’ve eaten with strawberries … shortcake, tarts, cheesecake, cheesecake in popsicle form, ice cream, jams. Even the simplicity of enjoying them cut up, with a little sugar sprinkled on top to bring out the juices, makes my mouth water.
But strawberries can play a lead role in many savory options as well. I’m not talking about salads (though that’s so yum) — I’m talking strawberry and leek quesadillas, or on skewers with shrimp and a side of fennel slaw or even salmon with a luscious savory strawberry sauce.
SARAH: Used as toppers, broken down into chutney or sauces, incorporated into batters and frosting or muddled into ice-cold beverages, these little buggers pack a serious sweet punch.
AMY: I love the ice-cold beverage idea. Because, well, I’m a fan of ice-cold beverages in general. I can’t resist giving you several to try here:
- Watermelon and Strawberry Mojito (made even prettier served like THIS!)
- Strawberry-Basil Moscato Lemonade (I can’t help it — I love strawberries with basil!)
- Strawberry and Coconut Water (non-alcoholic, or add rum or vodka)
SARAH: And guess what?! This is the PERFECT time of year for cold beverages AND strawberries. Those plump ones from faraway farms in your big-box grocer’s produce department may look enticing, but once you bite into one, you’re likely to be so disappointed. White on the inside and tasteless! So skip those. In-season and freshly picked, strawberries should be small, juicy and red all the way through. The sweet flavor will take you to another planet. No joke.
So, no matter where you are, seek out a pick-your-own strawberry farm or a farmers market that sells these amazing, vibrantly red little berries. Go … buy so many that you wonder what is wrong with you. Try to incorporate them into every meal until they’re all gone — even if it’s just you, stuffing your cheeks full. We promise it will not take long to finish them off.
AMY: Well said, Sarah. Well said. Now I’m freaking feigning for strawberries.