As an adult immigrant, one of my mother’s first jobs in this country was to pick strawberries.
Yep, Mom picked strawberries. And she once told me she preferred this job over others because most of the picking happened at dawn; she wouldn’t miss me because I’d be sleeping. And I didn’t miss her, because I slept.
I don’t recall that my Mom didn’t speak much English, wasn’t paid minimum wage or wasn’t allowed to keep any of the berries she picked. What I remember fondly is that anytime my Dad drove us past a patch, my Mom would proudly point out, with a big grin on her face, “this is where I work.”
So as a child, anytime the market had berries, I’d wonder to myself if my Mom picked any of them. And in case she had, I wanted to touch them, I wanted to buy them, I wanted to eat them.
Even now, as an adult, anytime I drive past a patch, I think of my Mom. And I think of how many berries she had to pick to buy me a pair of socks. Then I think of the other parents out there, working the fields so they too, could provide for their kids.
Strawberries are in the peak of season right now. If you live in Central Orange County, I recommend the one by the RGB, located on the corner of Chapman Avenue and Crawford Canyon Road. If you arrive and strawberries are sold out, just hang tight; the man tending the stand will grab an empty basket, ask for two minutes, disappear into the patch and return with a handful of sun-kissed fruit.
Buy a basket. Take a big juicy bite. Think of where your strawberry just came from. And smile.
To my own Mom, the best strawberry picker there ever was, Happy Belated Mother’s Day; I love you!
Strawberry Recipes from the RGB:
Fresh Strawberry Pie | Fresh strawberry pie with whipped cream and vanilla in a flaky butter pie crust.
Arugula and Strawberry Salad | Arugula and strawberry salad with spiced walnuts, fresh goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
Meyer Lemon Strawberry Muffins | Meyer lemon buttermilk muffins with fresh strawberries.
Strawberry Lemonade | Strawberry lemonade, with home-grown Meyer lemons and a splash of Prosecco.