Posted by: puebloman | March 26, 2009

Strawberry fair

At the moment, little hard expensive strawberries with white unripe centres are in all the shops. They remind me of the the Spanish strawberries I used to know in England. In the ’60s I was a teenager and lived in Warsash, a village in Hampshire and we grew stawberries – English and therefore the best in the world according to my parents. We grew Cambridge vigour and Cambridge favourites and another deep red one whose name I forget. We had to get them to market before the Kent crop came on. As soon as that happened the price crashed and it was only profitable to sell them pick-your-own, or in by the box at the roadside. When transport costs became criminally low and it made weired sense to fly fruit around the world, the Spanish farmers wiped us out with their forced unripe flavourless fruit, bred not for taste but for colour and to hit the English markets early and atttract a silly price from the stupid public.

Of course these were not the real Spanish strawberries that the Spanish reserve for themselves, and next month here in the fruit markets of Spain we will get the real thing as we do every year. Within a few weeks real strawberries will have come into their own, slowly and fully ripened, full of juice and with heady perfumes that remind you that smell is the most powerful and evocative sense of all. As the strawberries get better, so they become cheaper until suddenly bingo! Its strawberry jam week! Fruit is sold by the double kilo at knock down prices, the red juice  running everywhere like some bloody fiesta. The week following there will be nothing. Not a single strawberry. Cherries, on the other hand will be heaped up ready to be bottled brandied and turned into preserves. Plums will follow, and then peaches and paraguayas (little flat peaches that taste of scented sugar), these in turn will take us to the land of figs, mangoes,  muscat grapes and other mellow fuitfulnesses.

At the moment we are bagging up our last oranges. They are little and no good for sale because they are old varieties, thick skinned and full of pips. Lemons are as big as grapefruit this year because we have had water. I have just made a load of dark marmalade from sour oranges that grow on the unpruned sporting wood at the base of the trees. More of this anon. . .


Responses

  1. Can’t believe you get strawberries so early! As we are in the mountains, we don’t get the glut you mention, unfortunately. And cherries, not til June. Mangoes, only deep down in the valley the other side of the village!

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  2. Ah Anne, Jude and I don’t actually grow either strawberries or cherries (I of course have my own strawberry tub!). I understand that local strawberries were wiped out by EEC avocado grants, and cherries won’t fruit around here, its too hot. You get blossom but no cherries. I’m really talking about Velez-Malaga market. There’s a massive wholesale market there and a big fruit and veg market on Thursdays. I assume the fruit comes in from the near area but that’s all I know!

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