Once a year, I go strawberry picking with my friend Amanda. (You might know Amanda; she writes about pickles and parties.) Rummaging through leaves while hunched over, getting all itchy in search of the perfect, vibrantly red berry may not sound like fun, but there is something meditative about it, and I do enjoy the chatting with friends part. Mostly though, I enjoy the reward. Not the flats of berries we load into the car, though that is a reward, but the ersatz strawberry shortcake we eat after our hard work.
The shortcake is simple, and not really shortcake. It’s store-bought angel food cake, topped with just-picked berries and whipped cream from a canister. I cannot take credit for this stroke of sheer summer genius, as the idea is all Amanda’s, but I do contribute. I provide the cake and cream, and Amanda brings little paper boats and cutlery. We dust off our berries to the best of our ability, then build our desserts and chow down as the sun begins to dip behind the trees. It’s the perfect way to punctuate the experience of berry picking, and it costs less than 10 bucks.
You can, of course, use this manoeuvre with other berries. You can use it raspberry picking, or blackberry picking. (Though blackberry picking is usually less idyllic, as blackberries love growing in vacant lots and on the side of the road.) It would also work well for peaches (just bring a pocket knife).
You can also branch out from cake and cream and tailor your accoutrement to the any kind of produce-picking. You can bring a little cheese plate to enjoy with freshly picked apples or pears, or — if you’re a tomato freak who goes tomato picking — grab some little ones and eat ‘em with little ciliegine and a splash of balsamic, or maybe bring a cutting board, a squeeze bottle of mayo, and bag of white sandwich bread for an al fresco tomato sandwich (this, to me, would be the move).
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