26 April 2007
love thursday: an illicit affair

I love strawberries. And I know I'm not the only one.

Last week at the Friday market, I bought a case of them (I have no idea how much they actually weighed) for 5 euro, and believe me, it was a deal. Just two little containers of them can run you 2 whole euro, whereas the case holds 10 containers.


And if you're unsure of my love of strawberries, let's make this clear--P doesn't eat them, so that entire case was for me, and was gone by Monday afternoon.

My strategy is to clean two containers at a time, stir in some sugar, and let them sit until they are in a gooey, teeth-curling sweet syrup. Don't worry, I eat some sans sweetener along the way as well.

On Friday afternoon, when I was elbow-deep in strawberries, P rescued this one (yes, it's just one) from the line of fire, providing me with a perfect Love Thursday photo:



I didn't end up eating the entire 10 containers of strawberries myself, though, as I shared a few with neighbors. My Aussie friend and neighbor returned the favor by inviting me over Sunday morning for breakfast, and this was the main dish:


Strawberries with fresh ricotta cheese drizzled with honey.


The flavors mixed together amazingly, and since my friend is also a restaurant pro, she even threw in a sprig of basil once she saw I was pulling out the camera. And yet again, we have a dish with the colors of the Italian flag; anyone else, expats or otherwise, find it odd how often that happens? All we ever had in America was that Fourth of July blueberry and strawberry flag cake, I think, which for the record, I've never made or eaten.


I really do love strawberries, but I appreciate them even more because here we eat everything only when in season. Sure, maybe an odd strawberry would've been nice in January, but that's not even an option, and I'm glad it's not.

My body is adjusting to seasonal eating, and I like it--it starts knowing what it needs just about the time it's coming into season. I found it this past year with artichokes, chicory, and, of course, my beloved strawberries, and it will soon happen with figs, peaches, cucumbers, and fresh, juicy tomatoes.


The mouth-watering anticipation makes everything I like just a little more special when I can finally have it. Or, absence apparently does make the heart grow fonder.

And so my illicit affair with strawberries will be in full force for a little while longer until all the 5 euro crates slowly disappear, and my obsession is put on hiatus once again.

Until next year.

Happy Love Thursday everyone!

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37 Comments:

Blogger dillyweed said...

Strawberries are my favorite food, by far. Add chocolate to the mix and you've got my heart.
Happy Love Thursday, to you and your bunch of yummy berries!

Blogger Delina said...

Great photos, especially the first one.

Must try your ricotta and honey idea. It sounds delicious.

Blogger sognatrice said...

Ooh yes, Dillyweed! Chocolate and strawberries! Yum!

Delina, I can't take credit for the ricotta and honey thing, but I can definitely vouch for it. It *is* delicious, and you know what, I think I'm counting it as this week's cooking segment that I so callously failed to write up ;)

Blogger Poppy Fields said...

If the prices drop down to 5 euros a crate, we are going to be in strawberry trouble around here, too! Happy Love Thursday.

Blogger AM said...

Ahh, I'm salivating. Last year I had a love affair with cherries. I love strawberries too, but big fat juicy cherries are just slightly superior in my book.

Good to see you back.

Blogger Gil said...

My Grandmother used to add some vermuth or brandy along with the sugar.

Anonymous Judith in Umbria said...

They haven't reached that price here yet, but when they do! Buy some Fruttapec and sugar and follow the recipe for jam that uses 1/2 the sugar that's normal. You will have luscious all year. Then I will make and post Dutch Babies and you can eat some of it on those.

Our 4th dessert was a crust made of meringue with chopped nuts and crushed Chex-type cereal folded in. It was formed on the outside of an upturned pie pan. Then fresh strawberries, blueberries and peach halves were arranged in a design and over all of it was poured a light lemon glaze. Chilled, served with whipped cream. Beat that!
Oh, and check out the new blog address. It is all me now.

Blogger Tracie B. said...

you know what makes the heart frow fonder? eating something that tastes like what it is. that's what i love about italy/seasonal eating!

and you forgot the upcoming barlotti, spiccholini, fagiolini, melenzane, zucchini...i can't wait :)

Blogger Bre said...

as kids, we used to pluck strawberries off the vine, rinse them under the hose, and then stuff ourselves full of them while laying out in the back yard. Strawberries are summer to me!

Anonymous bella said...

My goodness, those strawberries look delicous!! Has P ever tried the chocolate dipped variety? I'm sure being in Italy and all - you could find some amazing chocolate.. that would be a nice treat.
Happy Love Thursday!!
ps.. so glad you're back on the net!

Anonymous J.Doe said...

I love strawberries. Thanks for the pictures.

Blogger Ally Bean said...

I think that eating seasonally would be a treat. the strawberries look delish. Lucky you.

Blogger Jeff Gromen said...

Oh yes the strawberries! I've been eating mine with my leftover easter egg chocolate (50% off the day after, I know I'm "short armed"). It's soo gooood but how much longer will it last? I'm still adjusting to this seasonal eating too. Right now I'm thinking of the summer with all the peaches and pears and being at the beach.
This week the farmer at the market said the "rape" season is coming to an end. No more "oreichiette con rape" noooooo....

Jeffo

Blogger Ninotchka said...

OMG you're worse than my kids. The strawberries do not last around here with those little critters. We've been having to split up our little harvests of one or two strawberries a day between the three of them. They gather around me like little baby birds vying for worms. It's actually pretty hilarious.

And that breakfast your neighbor served? YUM!

Anonymous Pat said...

Try the strawberries sliced with just a little bit of lemon juice and you won't need the sugar. The wild Italian strawberries so' meglio ancora. The ricotta and honey was a very classic ancient Roman dish.

Anonymous corina said...

I also have a love affair like this:) The best strawberries are for me the ones from my grandmother garden... LT

Blogger The Other Girl said...

I completely agree with you about seasonal eating. Here, we can get anything at pretty much anytime, and I think that has really had a negative effect on quality. Watermelon in January is all kinds of wrong, but I've noticed that the watermelon you can get in June tastes significantly the same.

Those strawberries look amazing. If I can get a decent batch, I'm going to try the ricotta/honey combo. I've also heard that they're good heated slightly and drizzled with balsamic vinegar, but I might be misremembering that (or making it up entirely).

So glad you're back!

Blogger Jane said...

I love the photos! I also adore strawberries too. Lately, my son and I have been making crepes spread with Nutella and fresh strawberries...topped off with some fresh cream. SO GOOD. The ricotta and honey recipe sounds like something I must try. Happy Thursday!

Anonymous AA said...

Oh yeah. Love strawberries! You would think I would have burned out on them since they were in season and I ate about a pint a day (or more) for several months when I was pregant. I was kind of afraid the kid would come out with green hair and freckles. I still love them and seasonal, local ones are the best. Can you freeze some? I try to get a few baggies put up for winter treats.

I love raspberries too, but they are really expensive here. When I was in Bulgaria (summer 2005) we bought those everyday from the street vendors. It was great to be able to fill up on them without going broke.

Blogger Giulia said...

Welcome back Michelle, good to see you up and running again! My whole family loves strawberries too. :) We used to eat them on little pieces of angel cake with a dollop of whipped cream. Yum, I can almost taste it! I haven't had it like that in a while now.

Blogger Beth said...

I absolutley adore strawberries. The picture of strawberries with ricotta cheese and honey looks delicious. I will definitley have to try it.

Anonymous Kristen said...

Strawberries...one of my favorite summertime treats. Unfortunately for me, I have to share because my whole family loves them too!

I love strawberries!!!

I agree with you about seasonal eating. Nothing like a peach or cherries, etc. when they are in season. yum.

Blogger Shan said...

Mmmm love strawberries!

Blogger cheeky said...

Know what they say? You are what you eat? :)
The strawberries look yummy and I love how the bowl turned out to contain the flag colors of Italy. I know the cake you are speaking but I have never made it either. Enjoy.

Blogger Curatrix said...

So nice to see you back. I didn't realize how much a part of my morning coffee (not espresso though) your blog had become. I LOVE strawberries too, though these days, I end up fighting with my kids over who gets to eat them. They're in season here in CA now too and they are lovely.

Blogger Bongga Mom said...

I always enjoy reading your posts on food, they always inspire me to whip up something fresh and natural in my kitchen!

Anonymous Sara said...

What do you mean, "P doesn't eat them"?!?!? Truly? How can that be?

Ah, well, more for you. I just picked up my first basket of the year, from 3,000 miles away and half rotten, but I was starved for them. I had made whole wheat raisin and zucchini muffins with oat bran a few days before, and as delicious -- and healthy! -- as I found them, my true love enjoyed them less ardently than he would have a batch of chocolate anything. However, he discovered that they were really good split open and filled with strawberry ice cream. When I then brought fresh[-ish] strawberries into the house, and a can of cheap and easy sweetened, lightened whipped cream, well, things got out of control. But I can recommend a strawberry ice cream - raisin-zucchini-bran muffin - fresh strawberry - whipped cream sundae without reservation.

A fine mess. Truly fine. :)

Blogger sognatrice said...

Poppy Fields and Judith, amazing price, wasn't it? How could I resist? And Judith, I've updated my feed and link :)

Am, ooh, cherries are good too. And once they're in season, I'll start my affair with them as well.

Gil, your grandmother sounds a lot like my grandmother. Big shock there!

Tracie, you're right! I saw some zucchini at the market last week and had visions of fried flowers....

Bre, what a great summer memory. Anything washed off by a hose always tastes better.

Bella, I doubt P has ever had the chocolate-dipped variety since he eats zero chocolate. I know. I can't fathom it either.

JDoe, prego :)

Ally, yes I'm very lucky to be able to enjoy fresh, in-season food. Don't worry--I'll eat some for you too.

Jeff, yeah, the ends of the seasons are a bitch aren't they? That's when "seasonal eating" isn't so appealing....

Ninotchka, what a cute image of your little ones vying for strawberries. Photo! Photo!

Pat, I'm sorry, I'm not a big fan of lemons--I have an enormous sweet tooth. What most people would consider a sweet strawberry is probably still bitter to me. I'm very sensitive (and very against) bitter. P, on the other hand, is all over it. He eats lemons for fun. Blech!

Corina, yummm!!!

TOG, hmm, the balsamic sounds interesting. It doesn't sound like you're making it up to me, but you know, I'm a lemming when it comes to your pronouncements, so maybe I'm not the best judge.

Jane, oh my goodness--what a great treat! Now I have to get more strawberries.

AA, I've never tried freezing strawberries; obviously they don't last long enough around here to even try. As for raspberries, we don't have those around here. No blueberries either :(

Giulia, yes! We called it Strawberry Shortcake--did you? Actually I used some of my mixture with the sugar over left-over pieces of the cuzzupa from Easter. I didn't have whipped cream or even vanilla ice cream, but if I did, it would've been a pretty good substitute for strawberry shortcake. Delicious :)

Beth, definitely try the ricotta and honey. It's delicious and healthy too!

Kristen, NYC, Shan, glad we agree :)

Cheeky, you know, I did suddenly look a lot more red and seedy over the past few days....

Curatrix, aw, thanks for your kinds words. Is it wrong to hope that any future kids take after their father in not liking strawberries so there's more for me?

Bonggamom, fresh and natural...yes! We have little choice here, which is good b/c it keeps me healthier ;)

Sara, it's just insane that P doesn't eat strawberries, isn't it? Even odder is that I offered some to his mom--and she wouldn't take them. What's wrong with people? Yum, yum, yum, on the muffins--would you like to share a recipe?

Anonymous Judith In Umbria said...

Just a thought, sometimes people don't like things that they end up being allergic to, gradually... my kid hated fish except crab, lobster and shrimp, but now is super allergic to all seafood.

And YESSSS to black or red cherries! We have a black cherry tree that I have to climb to get the fruit. Worth even the chance of a busted gut. Then, the salad of pollo al diavolo and cherries!

Blogger sognatrice said...

Judith, interesting thought. It's possible with P, although his general list of "I don't eat that" includes just about all fruit or anything remotely sweet. He's a bitter, bitter man ;)

I prefer black to red cherries, but I always tend to overdo it...and then there are, um, digestion issues. Never stops me, though, from going back again and again. The salad is making my mouth water for all summer salads. Yum!

Anonymous tongue in cheek said...

Strawberries rule the world!

Or at least the tastebuds!

Anonymous Sara said...

Sognatrice, I have more experimentation to do with this recipe. I am trying to achieve the magic and mystery I experienced eating zucchini bran muffins at Rebecca's Mighty Muffins in Santa Cruz, California. They haven't made the recipe I'm thinking of in years, just the zucchini millet one which is okay but not brilliant, and I haven't yet hit on the exact combination of moistness and darkness, richness and spice that I remember. But these are very nice, if not very interesting, and are adapted from a recipe for zucchini quick bread in Betty Crocker's Cookbook. When I get the feeling and flavor I'm looking for I will post that recipe and photos over at my own place, I promise. (I think it's going to involve molasses.) Meanwhile:

1½ C zucchini (a small zucchini) grated
½ + 1/3 C evap. cane juice or sugar (I split a recipe and can't do math)
1/3 C canola oil
1 T vanilla
2 jumbo eggs
1½ C whole wheat flour
2 T oat bran
1 t baking soda
½ t salt
½ t cinnamon
¼ t ground cloves
handful of hand-crumbled pecans
handful of big, plump, dark raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Grease 12 muffin cups and set aside.

3. Whisk together flour, soda, bran, salt and spices and set aside.

4. In a separate bowl, mix zucchini, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs. Then dump in the dry ingredients and gently but thoroughly blend. Then blend in nuts and raisins.

5. Distribute batter among the 12 muffin cups, then bake for 25 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

6. Now you have a choice. You can either cool them slightly and enjoy them warm or cold as you would any other muffin, or you can split them open warm and fill them with ice cream, fresh fruit, and whipped cream (which you can also do with them cold, but mamma mia (as we Americans imagine they say around your parts)! how great would it be if you did it while they were still so hot you could barely get them out of the cups?). Either way, enjoy. :)

Blogger sognatrice said...

TIC, I completely agree :)

Sara, mamma mia is right! Wow, thanks so much for typing all that up. Now as soon as our zucchine come into season (and I locate various other difficult to find ingredients), I'll definitely be trying these. And I'm thinking that from now on, I'll have strawberry ice cream on hand, you know, just in case ;)

Blogger JennDZ said...

Its funny! It does seem like so many of the recipes and things I make end up the colors of the italian flag - it is really beautiful though!

Thanks for all the comment love this morning.

Your strawberry heart is gorgeous. The red of those berries, yummy!

Anonymous a far away friend said...

I love strawberries too. I love to mix them with sugar, abd let them get all soft and goey!!! Not sure I could eat as many as you. Hope you enjoyed them!!

Blogger Jeni said...

The last restaurant job I had (at a local truckstop) I baked a huge sheet cake (white with bluberries mixed into the batter)and iced and decorated it with strawberries and blueberries to form the US flag. This was about 2 days after 9-11 and the truckers and locals loved it. I've also made the strawberry/blueberry ice cream pie -like a flag sort of. It was really good - graham cracker crust, layer of vanilla ice cream with the berries around the top in sections. My son is a mega strawberry lover so he was ecstatic over the ice cream pie thing.

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