In a new series of articles, black women living in Europe share their views from the inside. In our fifth article, Kendra Williams-Valentine learned to love strawberries.
It was my first real summer in Sweden. I accompanied my boyfriend to a cookout (I refrain from using the word BBQ) hosted by a friend. After a quick bite, it was time for dessert and I could see the group getting excited… and then it was revealed: sliced strawberries and vanilla cream.
I thought to my self:
That’s it??? Not sliced n chilled for sauce? No gram cracker crumbs on top? Okay so you don’t really do graham crackers here, but you have chocolate Syrup rite? Probably the good stuff from Belgium eh?
Oh. Just the berries.
I was not so accustomed to such simple pleasures, it occurred to me. I don’t know if I’d ever done that before to be honest.
It was good, but I was more enraptured with the looks of pleasure of the others around the table. It seemed like each bite was followed by a slight writhing pang just before swallowing. It was as if they were flirting with the ensuing lament that was to come after the season enviably and abruptly ends in Sweden. This joy obviously came from a place deeper then the roots of even the most virile strawberry patch.
For my boyfriend “humble” was always a good thing. I joked that I didn’t really get that way of thinking, even though I secretly wanted to. It was as if somehow the eye of the American eagle was watching and provoked me the constantly make remarks and to be unsatiated by meager portions of “logam” here and there. (“Logam”= Swedish code word for mediocre meant to be positive.)
But, alas! Soon enough, there I was with a strawberry patch of my own supposed to yield come summer. However, as I am adept at planning for failure in the domestic sphere (read: relationship), I just let the notion of gardens and homemaking rest in the back of my head, not silenced but restful.
By year three I was suddenly anticipating the strawberry season and a large yield came. This year we carefully protected them with a net.
Some were large.
Some small and close to the ground still reaching for the strawberry they aspire to be.
Others a bit unassuming, leaning on its neighbor… but the one thing for sure is that they were plentiful.
We picked them off. Without needing to use one word. And enjoyed the simple pleasure of plain strawberries and vanilla ice cream. Both of us.
Kendra Williams-Valentine is from Boston (by way of California) and currently lives in Stockholm. She has a professional background in film and media development but her heart is also in the culinary arts. When she is not waiting for a copy of The Modernist Cuisine to magically appear in her lap, she writes freelance as well as on her food blog www.Americulinariska.com.
In our next article Gloria Dixon-Svärd trades her dreams of being a diplomat for a life way up north.