Signor Lu is a lover of strawberries and often comes home with a tray of the little fruits.
“That’s way too many strawberries for just two people to eat,” I catch myself saying. But he’s already sorting them, washing them, removing the green stems and presenting me with a bowl. They are usually delicious and the entire tray doesn’t last long.
I like to eat my strawberries undressed (them not me). I’m not sure whether this is because I’m basically lazy or because my inner minimalist always wants to pare things down.
Even so, I’m well aware that strawberries marry well with so many things: dark, bitter chocolate; disaronno; artisan “gelato” (vaniglia and fior di latte work for me) and strawberries on a cheesecake can be pretty hard to beat.
How can you choose good strawberries? How can you avoid tasteless, insipid ones? Apart from colour, the smell test is a good method. You need to be like Gerard Depardieu in Green Card and give fruit (he does it with melons, if I remember correctly) a good sniff.
Provenance is important for some people. I overheard a couple in the local supermarket rejecting some gorgeous-smelling, bright red strawberries solely because they had come from Spain (the strawberries not the couple). This didn’t stop me. I bought a box and they were delectable.
When I absolutely cannot find any decent strawberries then a strawberry gelato is usually an excellent stand-in.
As with all good things, the strawberry season will soon come to an end here in Northern Italy. The good news is that many other delicious summer fruits will follow.