I ate my first real strawberry at 19.
I’d eaten red fruits, covered with crunchy minuscule seeds and topped with a green leaf collar my whole life. Big and firm, their flavor ranged from mild and watery to puckeringly tart, any time of the year. They had white cores and fuzzy hollow centers. They came in plastic containers labeled “strawberries,” and I thought they were my favorite fruit. “S, my name is Sacha; I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing Strawberries.”
But those fruits were not strawberries. I had my first of the real thing on the side of the road in Sonoma Valley, California. It was petite, plump, and deep red, and its soft flesh squished easily between my fingers. The small plot of land wasn’t one of the vast strawberry wastelands of Salinas, where workers toil with no reward. There was just a hard-working family, a field, and well-treated workers. Sun-tanned hands passed the quart of California berries toward me, and I bashfully traded the hand’s owner some rumpled bills out of my own pale, smooth hands for the sweet bounty. She very much was her hands—those hands told a story of hard work and hot sun, and mine had nothing to show but sloth and my cold-weather roots.
I ate the berries, all the berries, right there in minutes. Ruby-red from edge to center, their juices ran down my mouth, staining my lips, my chin, my hands, my clothes. Nope; if this was a Strawberry, I had never previously had one. Continue reading