Monday, May 24, 2010

The Pleasures of Spring

Nothing signals spring to me quite like ripe strawberries and asparagus.  I anxiously await asparagus season, which is far too brief, snatching up the crisp bundles like sacred relics.  Nothing is better than fresh asparagus, and the supermarket offerings are tawdry substitutes.

Asparagus comes first, followed closely by strawberries.  A fresh-picked strawberry is a joy and a delight.  Lance has a strawberry bed, but his come in a little later than some of the sellers at Farmers' Market, so I bought a box one week and savored them over the course of a couple of days.

Then Lance's berries began to ripen.  I awaited eagerly to eat them, savor them, enjoy them.  They make the monstrosities purchased from the grocery store taste like only the red-tinted idea of a strawberry.  These are Strawberries, pure spring delight that cannot be replicated.

I used to be ambivalent about strawberries: if offered, I would smile and take one, but I didn't go nuts for them.  Then I started eat strawberries that were picked when they were ripe (instead of slightly before and then shipped hundreds of miles), and I discovered a whole new world of taste.  Now I greedily hoard them, like a dragon protecting rubies, sharing only with those who are worthy.

This morning, I brought strawberries to work for a snack.  As I bit into one, it completely captured my attention.  It was delightful.

I wish everyone could have the opportunity to experience food in this way.  Eating can be a source of pleasure in addition to fueling the body, and understanding that will make more people pursue good quality, fresh, and local food instead of accepting the flavors of things that barely pass as fruits and vegetables.  Everyone should have access to this kind of food, not just those with the skills and resources to grow it themselves, nor the individuals who can afford to shop at Whole Foods or other stores that offer it at a premium.

Strawberries should also only be available part of the year, and  I don't buy strawberries unless they are in season, and I very rarely by them from the supermarket even when they are in season.  They are a visceral pleasure of spring, along with asparagus, that I only enjoy in its proper time.  Perhaps that's why the moment of that first bite of asparagus or the first strawberry from the garden is such a delight: I only get to enjoy it for a brief window each year until the next time spring comes around.

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