Have you ever been camping, portaging a canoe or on a hike when you came across a wild strawberry? One of those teeny-tiny berries that you can hardly pull off the stem without squishing?
Those are the ones that simply fall apart in your mouth, all flavor. It seems a cup of sugar is packed into those berries, but the sugar is somehow balanced by the perfect amount of tartness.
It's just the thing to take your mind off the biting flies, your heavy pack or the intense heat in the wilderness.
This area has such a wonderful abundance of wild food this time of year. To be able to take a walk down a dirt road and find strawberries, raspberries and blueberries has always struck me as a tiny miracle.
Even when you're not camping or canoeing, wild berries are a treat.
In Colorado, achieving tasty berries requires a lot of water, many years of development of the patch and a lot of care.
Here, berry plants just pop up everywhere.
That's what happened in my front yard this year. Before I mowed for the first time (which was late, as usual) I noticed a patch of wild strawberries growing in the front yard.
I couldn't bring myself to mow over that strawberry patch, which was an amoeba shape that probably measured four feet by eight feet. Those plants had promise.
As soon as I got out of the car after work, I checked on the strawberries. First flowers, then tiny green fruits and, finally, strawberries.
Mowing around the patch really paid off. I spent many nights over the course of about two weeks on my knees in the front yard, pulling berries from the plants. We ate them with angel food cake, with whipped cream and on ice cream.
Of course, the berries were so tiny that they sometimes had to be supplemented with berries from the supermarket. They measure not much more than a centimeter long.
But as I said, what they lack in size they more than make up for with flavor.
I recently heard a quote on the radio that came from the late Gil Quaal. Quaal had a radio show and specialized in wild foods, and in my opinion he hit the nail on the head when it came to strawberries.
"To eat one berry is to glimpse perfection, but to pick a quart of them is to comprehend infinity," he said.
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