Sunday, June 10, 2007

Strawberry thief


Early morning, dew on the strawberry leaves, the sun will burn through the mist.

Another day's warmth and the strawberries will be just right.

Mid-morning, looking out of the window, a young blackbird, brown speckled, his beak just turning saffron yellow, is slipping below the runners, harvesting. As he is chased off, he drops his catch, a big ripe one, half pecked away. Another sorry shred hangs from its calix.

I love the blackbirds for ecstatic, excitable things. I even love the way they can't resist the luminous, glossy red of the berries, go wild for it. But I haven't nurtured these plants - a gift from the beautiful Maxime, a gourmet and connoisseur of fine things even at his tender 12 years, two years ago - on the terrace, strawed them and fed them and saved them from slugs and woodlice, only to see them binged in a day by marauding blackbirds. Tom applies his initiative, kindly fetches a raised bed surround from the vegetable garden, and improvises a knee-high fruit cage, which I can step into to reach them. By the end of the day, there is a generous, unmolested, bowlful for the picking.


Gilding the lily as ever, and ignoring my inner food police, I sprinkle them with icing sugar and rosé wine.

William Morris, it seems, could not bring himself to stop the thrushes raiding his strawberries, so turned them into chintz.


22 comments:

Dave said...

Lovely pics Lucy. Mouth watering. The thieves we have here are not the birds so much as the lizards! There is a family of them live under the concrete slab outside the back door. We were wondering the summer before last why the strawberries were eaten off the stalks, low down. We thought it might have been snails until the little blighters were caught in the act. I had no idea that they ate vegetable matter but this lot have a definite liking for our strawberries.

Plutarch said...

Have you tried seasoning strawberries with pepper? It is supposed to bring out the flavour.

Lucy said...

Dave, Plutarch, thanks.
Dave - I remeber those lizards; fancy them eating strawberries!
Joe - no, I've never tried, though I had heard that. Somehow sugar and wine always seems more tempting! I like using geranium sugar, a leaf of lemon or rose geranium steeped in the jar of sugar as it were a vanilla pod.

Tall Girl said...

Oh the strawberries in the red bowl! Divine. I hear balsamic vinegar goes well. I have never felt the need to try!

zhoen said...

I like strawberries naked.

Catalyst said...

The image of those red-bowled berries and the conjured image of zhoen eating them naked . . .

The mind reels.

Avus said...

Are yours sweeter than the ones we are offered here (England)? Have never tried them with wine (but I certainly shall!) I like mine with granulated sugar and single cream (crunchy and the cream "crusts" with a sweetness imparted by the sugar)

Lucy said...

I'm wondering if I shouldn't flag my own blog as inappropriate...

meggie said...

Something about rich red ripe strawberries does seem very lush. I have heard the balsamic vinegar, but I say when one has a rose wine, what could be better!
Our Bluetoungue Lizards love Passionfruit!

Isabelle said...

Lovely pictures, very interesting facts about soya and maize. Oh dear, and I like them both so much and neither will grow here in Scotland. Guilt. Mind you, we do grow good strawberries... for a few summer months.

You write so beautifully. I assume you're a published author? Or are planning to be?

leslee said...

Oh yum. Good enough to eat right off the page, especially when seen full size. We don't have our local strawberries yet, I don't think - I didn't get to the farm stand this weekend. The stores still have the hard, nearly tasteless mass-produced variety. Nothing like berries fresh-picked off the plant.

Granny J said...

Aha -- caught the veggie lady with a paean to a fruit. Tut, Lucy. Neat pictures, nonetheless.

Granny J said...

Aha -- caught the veggie lady with a paean to a fruit. Tut, Lucy. Neat pictures, nonetheless.

Lucy said...

TG - thank you; I initially put them in a complementary dark green one, then decided boldness was called for and chanced the red, rightly I think. I'm afraid the balsamic vinegar sounds a bit yuk to me!

Z - you're right of course, embellishments are really not necessary, but I like them. But please take care what visions you inadvertantly (?) conjure up, some of my male readers are easily excitable and have pacemakers you know!

Catalyst - steady on, old chap! Ah, the pleasures of blogging...

Avus - I don't know, there are some very nice local ones, from Plougastel down in south Brittany, especially a varity which is small and long called Garriguette; these are good by virtue of being straight off the plant. I agree about sugar and cream (curly locks!), but one thing we can't really get here, and I've never had a satisfactory answer why not, is good cream, mostly UHT or creme fraiche, which just isn't the same.

Meggie - thanks, I seem to remember giving the tortoise pieces of fruit when we were kids.

Leslee - thanks, as you say, just off the plant is best.

GJ - well, I did say that didn't I, but fruit is usually prettier!

Lucy said...

Oh and Isabelle, welcome and thank you for your generous compliment. We all have our moments, but it takes more than moments to be a 'real', published writer. I have neither the sustained ideas, the commitment nor the drive to become one, but I enjoy the freedom, scope and generosity and ephemerality of this form of self-publishing, and if anyone else enjoys what I write, so much the better!

Catalyst said...

Oh Lucy, it's more than just a few who appreciate your writing.

herhimnbryn said...

Warm from the sun is best I think.
Have tried them with balsamic vinegar and freshly cracked black pepper and they are good.
Your pics are great L. Do you always carry your camera, wherever you are?

William Morris...sigh.

zephyr said...

Yum!
it is strawberry time here as well...and my friend says the turtles sneak into her garden to munch on hers.

if we don't have too much rain
and i get to the local farm at the right time
the berries can be so sweet and luscious they do not need added sugar...but i do lash them with cream, after sprinkling a mixture of whole and cut berries over homemade baking powder biscuits...our family's chosen "shortcake."
(hmmm, it is long past time for me to post to my other blog...and i'm thinking it will be on strawberries!)

Lee said...

It's not fair. I should be studying statistics but I am sitting here salivating over pictures of strawberries! I agree with the black pepper lobby - surprisingly complementary.

Lucy said...

I'm beginning to think I should just do a fruit and veg blog!
Catalyst - keep up the compliments!
H - thanks, still can't really accept the balsamic idea...more and more I do carry rhe camera, but in kitchen and garden it's readily available. The problem is finding time to sort through the results. Glad to find another Morris appreciator!
Zephyr, yes the shortcke idea is a good one, look forward to your post on that!
Lee - go on, you deserve a treat!

marlyat2 said...

Blackbirds, thrushes, lizards, and turtles: it's a wonder we ever get such a perfect red on red bowlful.

Kate said...

Yum! Don't the critters know what's good?! A vintage Balsamic is amazing on Erdbeeren. As I said, Yum! K Q:-)