|Not Bergman Worth; Still Good|
As I wrote on the Market Blog thisweek, strawberries are one of those things that cause people to claim “_________ doesn't taste the same as they used to. In his book, How to Pick a Peach, Russ Parsons reminds readers that there is a passage in Steinbeck's East of Eden, where two farmers complain strawberries don't taste the same as they used to. The multi-generational East of Eden was published in 1957, the growers are reminiscing about the turn of the 20th Century. This complaint that things don't taste as good as they used to is now a 100 years old.
Of course, the chain smoking Steinbeck whose tastebuds were rendered useless by years of nicotine abuse, rather have his characters blame environment, technology, the passage of time, or the faulty relay of emotional memories that can imprint fresh and real passions on long expired events.
Sure we live in polluted cites, which has to affect how we taste as much as Steinbeck's beloved cigarettes messed with his perception. Many of us grew up in suburbs whose immediate family roots were urban rather than rural or the old country and we never had the experience of grandma's farmhouse. And for the most part, most of us have never tasted a berry straight off the runner. Berries come in pint containers from grocery stores.
Berries have been cultivated since the 17th Century, when new world and old world strains were mixed by human hands, meaning everything that came after is due to the intervention of humans. So how is it that we have this feeling that what we are tasting isn't real, natural, innocent? Why do people swear heirloom tomatoes are better than others when there is no definition of what heirloom is. Sometimes older varieties taster better do but not always and when they do, it might be because they were hand picked, not packed in 1 ton boxes, raised with a minimum of inputs or grown with organic methods, it might have little to do with the variety. Why is it the most memorable wine not the one with the biggest price tag, it is the one that comes when we travel to far away places and order from that little restaurant near the beach after a day of sun and it tastes so good you want a bottle to bring back home, only to find the locals don't even bother to bottle it, or age it, only enjoy it.
I saw a tweet from one of the market growers this morning saying they were picking today's strawberries for Market at 5 am. They were probably chandlers rather than the foodies preferred hood variety. They are probably soft and fragrant and they might even be better than anything we ever had in our youth.