Botanically speaking, the strawberry is a false fruit. The true fruits of the strawberry plant are the achenes, the small grains on the surface of the red and fleshy support which succeeds the flower. In the Rosaceae family, which includes other popular fruits (pears, apples, apricots, almonds, etc.), the Fragaria genus includes dozens of species from temperate and subtropical zones. Native to Europe, the wild strawberry, Fragaria vesca, or mountain strawberry, is grown today as the “queen of the valleys”.
Unknown to the ancient Greeks, considered uninteresting, even dangerous, the strawberry has long suffered from a bad reputation. This did not prevent many from tasting it, enjoying it and multiplying it. The various “modern” strawberry cultivars (mara des bois, gariguette, ciflorette, clery, etc.) all belong to the variety Fragaria ananassa, presumably resulting from a cross between a North American strain, Fragaria virginiana and a Chilean strain, Fragaria chiloensis . To enjoy it, it is better to avoid the first camarosa from Spain: picked immature, they are bright in color but have no flavor.
Rich in vitamin C and antioxidant polyphenols, strawberries are, contrary to what the “old” might say, excellent for health. The authentic Orleans variety is even said to help fight diabetes. A good strawberry is savored raw, fresh and shiny, possibly enhanced with a little sugar and a hint of fresh cream.
Classic, in pies, charlottes, sorbets, strawberries are of little interest when cooked. Marinated for a quarter of an hour with a dash of honey and lemon juice, a little orange blossom water or a pinch of salt, it takes on new aromatic attire. Mixed raw, with a leaf of basil, it is delicious to drink. Added to a nice salad of tomatoes and herbs, it offers a tasty summer marriage.