Saturday July 3, 2021’s Smile of the Day: The Strawberry
On this Day:
In 1806, Michael Keens exhibited the first large-scale cultivated strawberry—a large fruit strawberry, called the Keen Seedling. However, you would be in a jam if you said this was the first cultivation of this delicious fruit.
The garden strawberry (or simply strawberry; Fragaria × ananassa) is a widely grown hybrid species of the genus Fragaria, collectively known as the strawberries, which are cultivated worldwide for their fruit. The fruit is widely appreciated for its characteristic aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and sweetness. It is consumed in large quantities, either fresh or in such prepared foods as jam, juice, pies, ice cream, milkshakes, and chocolates. Artificial strawberry flavorings and aromas are also widely used in products such as candy, soap, lip gloss, perfume, and many others.
The garden strawberry was first bred in Brittany, France, in the 1750s via a cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America and Fragaria chiloensis, which was brought from Chile by Amédée-François Frézier in 1714. Cultivars of Fragaria × ananassa have replaced, in commercial production, the woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca), which was the first strawberry species cultivated in the early 17th century.
The strawberry is not, from a botanical point of view, a berry. Technically, it is an aggregate accessory fruit, meaning that the fleshy part is derived not from the plant’s ovaries but from the receptacle that holds the ovaries. Each apparent “seed” (achene) on the outside of the fruit is actually one of the ovaries of the flower, with a seed inside it.
In 2019, world production of strawberries was 9 million tonnes, led by China with 40% of the total.
The first garden strawberry was grown in Brittany, France, during the late 18th century. Prior to this, wild strawberries and cultivated selections from wild strawberry species were the common source of the fruit.
The strawberry fruit was mentioned in ancient Roman literature in reference to its medicinal use. The French began taking the strawberry from the forest to their gardens for harvest in the 14th century. Charles V, France’s king from 1364 to 1380, had 1,200 strawberry plants in his royal garden. In the early 15th century western European monks were using the wild strawberry in their illuminated manuscripts. The strawberry is found in Italian, Flemish, and German art, and in English miniatures. The entire strawberry plant was used to treat depressive illnesses.
By the 16th century, references of cultivation of the strawberry became more common. People began using it for its supposed medicinal properties and botanists began naming the different species. In England the demand for regular strawberry farming had increased by the mid-16th century.
The combination of strawberries and cream was created by Thomas Wolsey in the court of King Henry VIII. Instructions for growing and harvesting strawberries showed up in writing in 1578. By the end of the 16th century three European species had been cited: F. vesca, F. moschata, and F. viridis. The garden strawberry was transplanted from the forests and then the plants would be propagated asexually by cutting off the runners.
Two subspecies of F. vesca were identified: F. sylvestris alba and F. sylvestris semperflorens. The introduction of F. virginiana from Eastern North America to Europe in the 17th century is an important part of history because it is one of the two species that gave rise to the modern strawberry. The new species gradually spread through the continent and did not become completely appreciated until the end of the 18th century. A French excursion journeyed to Chile in 1712, which led to the introduction of a strawberry plant with female flowers that resulted in the common strawberry we have today.
The Mapuche and Huilliche Indians of Chile cultivated the female strawberry species until 1551, when the Spanish came to conquer the land. In 1765, a European explorer recorded the cultivation of F. chiloensis, the Chilean strawberry. At first introduction to Europe, the plants grew vigorously but produced no fruit. French gardeners in Brest and Cherbourg around the mid 18th century first noticed that when F. moschata and F. virginiana were planted in between rows of F. chiloensis, the Chilean strawberry would bear abundant and unusually large fruits. Soon after, Antoine Nicolas Duchesne began to study the breeding of strawberries and made several discoveries crucial to the science of plant breeding, such as the sexual reproduction of strawberries which he published in 1766. Duchesne discovered that the female F. chiloensis plants could only be pollinated by male F. moschata or F. virginiana plants. This is when the Europeans became aware that plants had the ability to produce male-only or female-only flowers.
Duchesne determined F. ananassa to be a hybrid of F. chiloensis and F. virginiana. F. ananassa, which produces large fruits, is so-named because it resembles the pineapple in smell, taste and berry shape. In England, many varieties of F. ananassa were produced, and they form the basis of modern varieties of strawberries currently cultivated and consumed. Further breeding was also conducted in Europe and America to improve the hardiness, disease resistance, size, and taste of strawberries.
The amounts of pesticides required for industrial production of strawberries (300 pounds (140 kg) in California per acre) have led to the strawberry leading the list of EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” of pesticide-contaminated produce.
In addition to being consumed fresh, strawberries can be frozen or made into jam or preserves, as well as dried and used in prepared foods, such as cereal bars. Strawberries and strawberry flavorings are a popular addition to dairy products, such as strawberry milk, strawberry ice cream, strawberry milkshakes/smoothies and strawberry yogurts.
In the United Kingdom, “strawberries and cream” is a popular dessert consumed at the Wimbledon tennis tournament. Strawberries and cream is also a staple snack in Mexico, usually available at ice cream parlors. In Sweden, strawberries are a traditional dessert served on St John’s Day, also known as Midsummer’s Eve. Depending on the area, strawberry pie, strawberry rhubarb pie, or strawberry shortcake are also common. In Greece, strawberries may be sprinkled with sugar and then dipped in Metaxa, a brandy, and served as a dessert. In Italy, strawberries are used for various desserts and as a common flavoring for gelato (gelato alla fragola).
Suonenjoki in North Savonia, Finland is a small town famous for its strawberries, which is why it is also known as “the Strawberry Town” or “the Strawberry Capital”. Many foreigners, mainly from Ukraine and Russia, come to Suonenjoki during the summer to work on strawberry farms. In July, there is a festival in Suonenjoki celebrating the strawberry called Mansikkakarnevaalit (“Strawberry Carnival”) (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
After Berry the dog ripped up the woman’s fruit garden again, she exclaimed with anger: “That is the final straw, Berry.”
Second, a Song:
Deana Kay Carter (born January 4, 1966) is an American country music singer-songwriter who broke through in 1996 with the release of her debut album Did I Shave My Legs for This?, which was certified 5× Multi-Platinum in the United States for sales of over 5 million. It was followed by 1998’s Everything’s Gonna Be Alright, 2003’s I’m Just a Girl, 2005’s The Story of My Life, and 2007’s The Chain. Overall, Carter’s albums have accounted for 14 singles, including three which reached Number One on the Billboard country charts: “Strawberry Wine”, “We Danced Anyway”, and “How Do I Get There”.
Carter was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the daughter of singer Fred Carter, Jr. Despite her famous father, she did not have a smooth path to a recording deal. After an initial lack of success at age 17, she entered the University of Tennessee, majoring in rehabilitation therapy and becoming a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, and a Sigma Alpha Epsilon Little Sister, also known as a “Little Sister of Minerva.” During college, she sang at various campus locations, performing for the enjoyment of singing, rather than with the intent of pursuing a musical career. She was also a local bartender at the Back Door Tavern (BDT) on Kingston Pike. After she graduated, she worked with recovering stroke and head injury patients. Although she found the work rewarding and worthwhile, she eventually realized that her first love was music, and decided to pursue the music career she had left.
Carter dated music video director Chris Hicky and had a son during their relationship; Gray Hayes Hicky was born in September 2004. On October 3, 2009, Carter married boyfriend Brandon Malone in Malibu. In November 2012, Carter filed for legal separation from Malone, citing irreconcilable differences. On July 6, 2018, Carter married Jim McPhail in a ceremony at the Pearl Hotel in Rosemary Beach, Fla.
Carter has been a national spokesperson for the National Kidney Foundation; her late father was a kidney transplant recipient. Carter also was the author of a book, Songs From the Heart.
Her first big break came when one of her demo tapes caught the attention of Willie Nelson, who invited her to take part in the 1994 Farm Aid VII concert as the show’s only female soloist. That same tape led to a contract with Capitol Records that year.
In early 1995 she released her debut album, Did I Shave My Legs for This?, in the UK on Patriot Records. However, the label folded shortly after the album’s release. In 1996, Carter released her debut country single, “Strawberry Wine,” which reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks. Did I Shave My Legs for This? was released in North America (keeping only three of the original tracks) to great success. The album debuted at No. 2 on the U.S. Top Country Albums chart and sold well over 5 million copies, and produced two further No. 1 hits in “We Danced Anyway” and “How Do I Get There.”
Carter was featured on the soundtrack to the 1997 animated movie Anastasia for her version of “Once Upon a December.” The track was made into a music video and received rotation on CMT at the time “How Do I Get There” was charting as a radio single (since the single had no music video).
“Strawberry Wine” is a song written by Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison, and recorded by American country music artist Deana Carter. It was released in August 1996 as Carter’s debut single and the first from her debut album Did I Shave My Legs for This?. The song also became Carter’s first number 1 hit on both the US Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) chart and the Canadian RPM Country Tracks.
“Strawberry Wine” is Carter’s most successful single overall, and is considered a signature song both for her and for songwriter Matraca Berg.
“Strawberry Wine” is a ballad, backed primarily with steel guitar and percussion. The narrator describes a time in her youth when she lost her innocence, and compares her love to the sweetness of “strawberry wine”. As she grows older, she returns to this place, to find that everything has changed.
The song tells the story of co-writer Berg’s own coming of age as a teenager outside of Luck, Wisconsin, she recalled: “We used to go to my grandparents’ dairy farm in the summer. My aunt, who’s six months younger than me, and I would try to score some wine. And I met this boy…” Berg shopped the song to record labels around Nashville, but they passed, considering it overly long, controversial due to its reference to a teenage girl losing her virginity, and not memorable enough. Deana Carter heard Berg perform the song at a showcase and then recorded it for her debut album, Did I Shave My Legs for This?.
“Strawberry Wine” won Song of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards in 1997 and was voted Song of the Year by the Nashville Songwriters Association International and the Nashville Music Awards. That year, the song was also nominated for three additional awards; Grammy Award for Best Country Song, Academy of Country Music Awards Best Country Song nominee, and Country Music Radio Awards for Song of The Year (per Wikipedia).
Here is Deana Carter performing “Strawberry Wine”. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“I love surprises – champagne and strawberries, all that pampering, romantic stuff. Guys ought to know how to pamper their women properly.” – Danica McKellar
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky