On my father’s farm, he has a greenhouse full of strawberry plants. My father always loses money on his strawberries. The secret of my father’s lack of success was recently revealed when he confessed publicly (within the family) that he believed that his clients were no better than he was, so he always chooses the best strawberries for himself. Beyond that, when his friends call to visit, he always picks a box of the best strawberries and, in a way, forces them on his guests as a gift. What is left is sent to market, and what is left brings low prices. Even more self-destruction occurs when he sends his strawberries to market with my brother, he instructs him to drop off a box of strawberries to several friends in Damascus.
In researching food history, one cannot find any reference to strawberries in Greek, Roman or Arabic literature. The first reference I could find was in the 14th century in France, in the accounting books of Duke Bourbon, which showed that he paid laborers to plant a plant, without naming it, that resembled wild strawberries. (which by the way, are the most delicious, better than the domestic strawberries). Wild strawberries are still sold in European markets and are a great delicacy in restaurants there.
Fraiseis the name given to strawberries by the French, taking the name from a young Frenchman named Friezier, who is said to have brought the plant from the country of Chile to France.
In the 18th century , women would mash the berries, strain them, and apply it to their faces as a mask, which, they believed , erased wrinkles and added a glow to their face. They also rubbed it on their teeth because it turned their teeth white. There was a belief that strawberries gave one longevity, that it alleviated the symptoms of gout, that it was good for the liver, and relieved the pain of kidney stones.
Nutritionally, one cup of strawberries has more vitamin C than one orange. It is high is fiber, potassium, and has a fair amount of iron.
If you are buying strawberries in the store, avoid boxes that are leaking or that show any signs of mold. Open the box and smell it, and even though you can’t see all the strawberries in the middle of the box, you will be able to smell the mold. It is better to refrigerate the berries and try to use them within two or three days of purchasing. Wash only the berries you intend to eat, as washing speeds the deterioration and spoilage.
1/2 pound ripe strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons gelatin
1 3/4 cups whipping cream
4 tablespoons Cointreau or any orange liqueur, optional
3 tablespoons grated coconut
-Get a pudding mold with 4 cups capacity. Spray with vegetable oil spray.
-Soak the gelatin in 1/2 cup of cold water.
-Remove the stalks from the strawberries, wash them in cold water, and then lay them to air dry. Place the dry strawberries with the sugar in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth paste. Pour puree into a large chilled bowl.
-Whip the cream until it is stiff and gently fold it into the strawberry puree.
-Heat the Cointreau in a small saucepan until the liqueur begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin until it has dissolved.
-Add the grated coconut to the strawberry mixture then slowly pour in the Cointreau and gelatin in small amounts.
-Mix constantly and then pour in the mold and bang it gently to eliminate any air bubbles, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
-Turn the mousse out on a shallow serving platter. Garnish with mint leaves.