This entry is one of our Mother’s Day contest winners. We asked readers for their favorite food memory about mom.
I remember when I was a kid waiting for strawberry season. My Mom’s favorite dessert was strawberry shortcake and we’d always have it on Mother’s day and my birthday and pretty much anytime Mom came home with those giant bright red strawberries that she’d get at a roadside stand along a dusty road near our home in Glendora, CA. We’d see those berries and the look on Mom’s face and we could almost taste the promise of summer. I can still picture my Mom biting into that crispy warm shortcake and the intense red of those juicy berries with the bright white dollop of fresh whipped cream mounted on top. I don’t know exactly what it was about that strawberry shortcake that makes me still almost weep for home.
I left CA after my Mom died in 1991. Time passed and strawberries started popping up in the market not just in the spring, but at all different times in the year. At first it felt like an exciting novelty, making our treasured dessert in the Fall or even in the dead of winter. But pretty soon it became sort of confusing and disorienting when I noticed that eventually strawberries joined the ranks of bananas and oranges (and everything else for that matter) as fruit that was available anytime throughout the year- imported from somewhere else, so we’d have to wait for nothing. Sure, there is something nice and convenient to getting anything anytime, but we lose something as we slowly and gradually wake up to find that nothing is special anymore. It was in the “waiting”- in the longing- for the season when we’d see Mom walk in with those beautiful strawberries that made strawberry shortcake more than just a dessert. Strawberries were a season, and strawberry shortcake was an experience… it was a time and a place and it was the sweetness of Mom.
Waiting… I guess you could say it’s a spiritual practice; you could definitely say that learning to wait is a necessary tool for life. So I mostly pass by those strawberries that I see in the market in the “off season.” I’m waiting for those strawberries which are picked at their prime right from the fields down the street. Come to think of it I may even drag my own kids down to pick a few baskets ourselves this Sunday on Mother’s Day. We’ll head home and I’ll get out the Bisquick… and I’ll make strawberry shortcake just the same way Mom used to. With a grateful heart that longs for home, I’ll watch my kids and think of Mom- and how sweet it all was and still is…. and how very worth the wait.