Washington state Dept. of Agriculture
You have a week. They will say that you have a month but it is not so — you have a week, 12 days at the most, to savor your Washington strawberries. Twelve days or so before a laggard, sullen rain, later than the others, cuts and soddens the plants.
In this very specific, and this stunted year late, moment, if we catch any sun at all, then there will appear this strawberry — a berry that is never exported, that never sees a Thomas Keller table, even in California, a strawberry so red and breasted with the rain of a too-long Spring, this strawberry that bleeds its red as no other, it will open, in your town.
This strawberry may be the true brilliance of this Washington. It is the one that cannot be franchised, cut, divvied, mocked, boxed, coated in chocolate, discounted, pasteurized, institutioned, neutered by Microsoft, sous-vided by Nathan. They are too fragile, they hate travel, they can only sit politely together. Compared to our once-prized apples — apples that the King of Prussia demanded, " bring me a box of those apples from Cashmere" — apples that are now so processed they look near precisely the same and last well past seasons and taste only like "an apple." Compared to the apples, these strawberries are a firefly, a moment.
There have already been scouts of the strawberry, small baskets of the fruit, that have seen little sun but came in advance anyway.
But the body of them is enroute, perhaps this week. They will be a little expensive but there will be plenty and you will never imagine they would not still be in bulk for Independence Day. But they shall never stay so long. They are like the ballet, rehearsing for three months and on for two weekends, then off stage.
There will be other, similar strawberries for all the summer. but not this one.
You can hold them a bit in time by freezing, or saucing with sugar, or making jam and they are happy allies for all such. But, for a moment of the next couple weeks, take what is the very privilege of this place, that which is only here and only for a moment, and enjoy the strawberry.
A friend says the best ones are from Sakuma Brothers farms, on Cook's Road near the south end of Chuckanut Drive. Japanese, of course, for it was they who grew the best of all, including the Marshall of fond recall and now almost gone.
There are moments in Italy when all the town knows a fruit is at its magnificence. It is a good habit for a town, and a very good habit for a culture that is rapidly paving its seasons.
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