Little did I know when I planted four small strawberry plants three years ago, that only 36 months down the line I'd be picking a big basket (well, a colander) full of ripe strawberries every day during strawberry season! Those four strawberry plants really liked my garden, and happily sent runners in every direction. Now there are strawberries growing everywhere on the terrace: nested under the lemon verbena bush, growing along the opposite edge of the terrace ... strawberries everywhere! In fact, there are actually too many strawberry plants for my little garden, and I’ve had to pull out a number of them every year. Because though we do like strawberries, I want room to grow a few vegetables, too!
This year the strawberry harvest began soon after we returned from Rome: that night we had fresh strawberries for dessert. I continued harvesting them all last week, until I had more fresh strawberries than we could possibly eat. So I decided to make strawberry jam. But while it was cooking on the stove, I got distracted, and my jam boiled over.
Have you ever cleaned up boiling jam off your stove top? It's sticky, messy, runny, and very hot. Not quite as messy as the accident I had years ago, when I accidentally elbowed a bottle of olive oil off the counter during a dinner party – that time I, with the help of my guests, had to wipe and wipe and wipe the floors to rid them of glass fragments and slippery oil. Though there’s always something worse to spill: I can still hear the despair in my sister's voice, the time she had to clean up and throw away a kilo of pricey raw honey in a glass jar that her toddler son (now a twenty-one-year old college student) had dropped and shattered on the floor …
So this morning I was thinking of my garden plenty of strawberries grown from a small patch of four plants, which led me to think about all the family mishaps having to do with cleaning up food … and all this led me to wonder how certain people can reduce the food we eat to a collection of chemicals and nutrients alone, when there are so many stories, happy or sad, bottled in a simple jar of honey or strawberry jam, where they all tend to mellow and become precious memories triggered by the food we eat.