Here, in Australia, it is winter. Strawberries like these are not available. Correction, strawberries that taste like these, are not available.
On his recent trip, my husband had one of those it-makes-complete-sense-in-France experiences. He was shopping, not in a market, a supermarket. Quietly going about his own business, he stopped to admire the fruit. He made no eye contact with anyone else. He did not venture an out-loud comment or exclamation, he just stopped to look. The lady beside him, French of course, wanted to help. She had sensed a moment of indecision and wanted to be sure to support him through it. So, addressing my husband, she gave her approval to the quality, of course the price was irrelevant, and then stopped as she was about to continue on her way, registering that my husband had not responded. She interpreted this as a sure sign that he was not French and, changing to English, continued in her self-appointed mission to ensure that he had the best gastronomic strawberry experience possible.
She advised him on how to eat said strawberries.
No, not with a recipe, not by suggesting a large dob of Chantilly or a perfect dessert wine. Just, how to eat the strawberry.
My husband stopped at this point in his story telling and I looked at him quizzically, still not sure if this was some sort of flirtation, French style, or really was a tale of two strawberries. Not sure about you, but I've always used the green bit to hold onto and chomped into the pointy end first. No! No! No! The pointy bit, apparently, is the sweetest bit and so you need, indeed must, start with the flat bit first and work your way up, saving the best for last.
Still musing over the exact nature of eating à la francaise, he was invited out for dinner that night to eat with our most charming of neighbours at the recently re-furbished restaurant across the road from our house. She insisted that they both start with a champagne aperitif and browsed the wine list to make her selection. Decision made, she called across the sommelier ... who refused to take the order. It was, he explained, not masculine enough for my husband and suggested another champagne that would fit the bill.
By this stage, I was rolling around with laughter. Strawberry etiquette and not-masculine-enough champagne. Only in France. How I love her so.
|View from the terrace of the Beau Site restaurant in Talloires on the Annecy Lake|