Now that I have time to hull the strawberries…

My grandmother never ate a strawberry that wasn’t hulled. My grandmother was deeply Southern — president of the Women’s Club for all of Tennessee Southern — but I don’t think that was it. It wasn’t gentility, either: she could have taught Liz Taylor some colorful phrases. I don’t recall her ever demanding hulled berries or anything as ill mannered as that. It was just on those rare occasions when she sat down to whole strawberries, she would take one dainty ‘no thank you’ nibble and leave the rest on her plate.

When I one day found myself in charge of my own kitchen, I turned my back on all that and built my culinary repertoire according to the concepts of “convenience” and “making reservations.”

Now that I’m home, this is slowly righting itself. To not have to squeeze dinner prep into the 17 minutes between getting home and eating completely changes what I put on the table. It makes more sense to keep a basket of fresh fruit in the kitchen now that I know it isn’t sitting alone for nine hours a day. I don’t worry at all about sending Anna to school with enough lunch; if it’s too anemic one day I know I’ll be picking her up half an hour later with a ready snack.

I wonder if the habits of old, hulling strawberries and eating fresher food and so on, were more a function of how people spent their time than of beliefs or limited technology. I doubt it was because transfats and MSG weren’t yet invented. I love my cranky old clothes dryer, for instance, but I really love the smell of sheets and clothes dried in the sun. Our almost-100-year-old California Bungalow is all thick walls and windows, a natural heating and cooling system now that I’m here to open and close the windows. I can go days without touching the microwave.

It seems counterintuitive to say it’s easier to entertain Anna all afternoon TV-free because we actually have all afternoon, but it is. Much. We aren’t locked into the too-much, too-little time yo-yo that our gone-all-day schedules required of us; time flows differently. I do hold regular DVD-and-frozen-pizza evenings, of course; they’re just rare, now, exceptions instead of standard fare.

So this morning I was fixing lunches, listening to the news, and I found myself hulling the strawberries. I have no idea when I started to do this again. I hadn’t thought of a hulled strawberry in ages. But I popped one in my mouth and …mmmmm… remembered again how lovely a hulled strawberry tastes as it melts in your mouth. And I stopped, for just a moment, and savored it all.

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Published in: on April 1, 2011 at 12:02 PM  Leave a Comment  
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