Bon Appetit Wednesday! Savory Strawberry Soup

strawberriesTiny, red and packed with flavor, this delectable little fruit has deep historical roots. Heart-shaped and fragrant, the strawberry has inspired poets, writers, painters and chefs with its plump perfection. William Allen Butler said it best, “Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.”[1] Today we’re sharing a unique strawberry soup recipe with you. But first, let’s explore this ruby berry’s origins.

The strawberry had humble beginnings. In prehistoric times, strawberries were tiny and grew in the woods where they would often be covered by a thick overgrowth. The season for strawberries was short and so they were not a particularly valuable food source for man. There is evidence, however, that prehistoric man did eat some strawberries. Seeds have been found at Mesolithic sites in Denmark, Neolithic sites in Switzerland and Iron Age sites in England.[2]

In ancient Greek and Roman times the strawberry continued to grow wild, but there was a greater appreciation for the fruit though it was consumed mainly for medicinal reasons. It was believed to relieve digestive issues and is still used today by making a tea from the leaves to calm the stomach.[3] The Romans believed it could treat a host of symptoms including “melancholy, fainting, all inflammations, fevers, throat infections, kidney stones, halitosis, attacks of gout, and diseases of the blood, liver and spleen.”[4]

In Greece, there was the Arbutus or Greek Strawberry tree whose fruit, according to Bertrandon de La Brocquière, a Burgundian pilgrim, is “somewhat bigger than our largest cherries, and of the shape and taste of strawberries, but a little acid. It is pleasant to eat; but, if a great quantity be eaten, it mounts to the head, and intoxicates.”[5]

The strawberries enjoyed in Rome were also wild-growing and were discussed by several poets and writers of the day. Virgil mentioned them in his Eclogue III in 37 BCE saying, “Ye boys that gather flowers and strawberries, Lo, hid within the grass an adder lies.”[6] In Pliny’s Natural History he mentions the wild strawberry that grows on the ground and distinguishes it from the tree variety.[7] In Rome it was referred to as fraga because of its delicious fragrance.

Mainz Hebarius - Gart der Gesundheit - the first known botanical drawing of the strawberry, 1485.

Mainz Hebarius – Gart der Gesundheit – the first known botanical drawing of the strawberry, 1485.

In the 1300s the French began to bring wild strawberries into their home gardens and cultivate them. In 1368 King Charles V had fraise de bois (Fragaria moschata) brought in to his Louvre gardens and shortly after the Duke of Burgundy added them to his Dijon estate.[8] The French strawberries were tiny, but exquisitely fragrant with “a Concord grape-like flavor and notes of clove, similar to the Alpine Strawberry known to Europeans today.”[9]

Not to be outdone, the British were cultivating their own woodland strawberries called Fragaria vesca. In the 1500s the Tudor dynasty took the fruit to all new heights when Henry VIII’s right-hand man Cardinal Wolsey suggested they be served with a dollop of cream. Today, strawberries and cream continue to be a prized British dish.[10]

When explorers arrived in the New World they found that Native Americans had already been enjoying their own strawberries for centuries. The Seneca held a strawberry festival each year to celebrate the ripening of the wild fruit. A drink was made for the festival’s ceremony by mixing the berries with water and maple syrup.[11]

Cherokee legend says that strawberries were sent by the Creator to calm an angry First Woman so she would return to her husband, First Man. She was soothed and fed the strawberries to her husband as they thanked the Creator and returned back to their home.[12]

Today, the strawberry is grown in every state of the United States and all over the world. Each region has its own special way of enjoying the little berry. In France, they serve a “soup made of strawberries, sour cream, borage and sugar to newlyweds” because they consider the strawberry to be an aphrodisiac. In the southern United States, you’ll find Strawberry Shortcake served with mountains of whipped cream. During the Wimbeldon tennis matches, strawberries are the favorite snack of viewers.

So whichever way you prefer your strawberries, remember its long journey from antiquity.  When you bite into the luscious red flesh and savor the tart sweetness of a strawberry, you’re experiencing a taste enjoyed through the ages.

Savory Strawberry Soup

Strawberry SoupIngredients

  • 1 pint (1/2 liter) fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon or lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon of Bragg Liquid Aminos
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
  • 2 T. diced fresh avocado

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender except the avocado. Blend on low speed until thoroughly pureed. You may have to stop the machine a few times to redistribute the strawberries. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.
  2. Pour into serving bowls, and garnish with diced avocado. Makes 2 cups (480 ml) or 2 small servings.

 

[1] Butler, William Allen. 17th century.

[2] http://www.vegparadise.com/highestperch45.html#Folklore

[3] http://www.examiner.com/article/the-poetry-of-strawberries

[4] http://urbanext.illinois.edu/strawberries/history.cfm

[5] Bertrandon de La Brocquière, Thomas Johnes, ed. (1807). The Travels of Bertrandon de La Brocquière, to Palestine: And His Return from Jersulem Overland to France, During the Years 1432 & 1433. Extracted and Put Into Modern French from a Manuscript in the National Library at Paris. Hafod Press. pg. 211

[6] “ECLOGUES, TRANSLATED BY H. R. FAIRCLOUGH.” Classical E-Text: VIRGIL, ECLOGUES. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[7] Pliny, John Bostock, and Henry T. Riley. The Natural History of Pliny.

[8] http://www.vegparadise.com/highestperch45.html#Folklore

[9] http://www.examiner.com/article/the-poetry-of-strawberries

[10] Driscoll-Woodford, Heather. “Wimbledon’s Strawberries and Cream Has Tudor Roots.” BBC News. BBC, 23 June 2010. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

[11] Pascatore, Linda. “The Strawberry Festival.” The Gobbler: Spring Flower. 1994 http://www.islandbreath.org/TheGobbler/Articles%20Published/03%20NA%20Native%20American/02%20Strawberry/na_02_Srawberry.html

[12] http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/StrawberryLegend-Cherokee.html

A Place Called Home: Earth Day, Ecopsychology and an Urban Legend

earth_day_2010_by_CrypticDisdain

What is this connection with the earth that we humans cling to so tenaciously?  As a species we obviously are dependent on the air to breathe, the water and soil that nurture us, the sun whose fiery presence holds us in its eternal circle.  But the earth is more than the elements that give us life.  The earth holds millions of memories in the folds of its mountains, across the tapestry of its lands and in the rhythmic singing of its seas. For we as humans attach ourselves to this earth, not just for nurturance, but by the profound evocations of time, memory and place. Continue reading

Easter, Resurrection and Chocolate Bunnies: Social Marketing Through the Ages

Image courtesy of Toelstede (Wikipedia-Name Nyks).

Image courtesy of Toelstede (Wikipedia-Name Nyks).

Easter is one of the holiest of holidays for Christians.   And with Easter’s roots in antiquity, we can see why the symbolism of this holiday continues to give succor and hope to believers today. But Easter is also a holiday that resonates for secular audiences.  You just have to know your market.

Easter derives its name from Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. As happened with many pagan holidays, early Christians saw an opportunity.  Around the second century CE they began absorbing Eostre’s meaning into their own story of Christ’s death and resurrection.  It was the holiday that spoke to the core of the human experience:  that death was merely transitory and that life—whether in this world or the next–prevailed.  So the most heralded and cherished concept of the Christian faith became entwined with Eostre, which itself commemorated life triumphing over death.  By correlating the stories over time, the fledgling Christian church not only gained a popular holiday, but also converts.  Forget today’s marketing calibrations for brand loyalty, return on investment and predictive validity.  This early social marketing by enterprising Christians is a case study of excellence in branding.  What better than a holiday celebrating life over death?  What smarter business plan than capitalizing on the success and market share held by your competitor, in this case, Eostre celebrants? Continue reading

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Green Borscht with Matzah for a Multi-Cultural Passover

Green nettle soup in a bowl with a spoon isolated on white background

Monday night, April 14th, was the first night of Passover, the eight-day festival celebrated by Jews around the world to commemorate the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. The start of the holiday always corresponds to the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan. Continue reading

May Is AntiquityNOW Month! Join the Celebration!

AN Month bigWhen we considered a commemoration in 2013, we asked ourselves a question:  Why have an AntiquityNOW month?   The answer was in our mission: to show how antiquity’s legacy influences us today and for generations to come.  So for the month of May, we will laud human endeavor through the ages and mark the importance of our world heritage. Continue reading

Music Origins: Mesopotamia, American Gospel and the Neurology of Faith, Part II

Image courtesy of Andrew Newberg, NPR.

Image courtesy of Andrew Newberg, NPR.

In Part I we looked at the importance of music in Mesopotamia and its specific role in communing with the gods. Fast forwarding nearly four millennia we found a remarkable similarity in the strains of American gospel music and the belief that the ecstasy of song enables the Holy Spirit to enter the bodies of the faithful. What is the nature of this willingness to give up one’s self to a higher being? How does music play a part? Is rapture—a potent driving force among believers—real?  Let’s look further at the reason for this music/spiritual connection by venturing inside the anatomy of the brain and as well exploring humankind’s long and precarious evolution of mind and body. Continue reading

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month

grilled cheeseCheese, cheese, glorious cheese! Cubed, shredded, sliced or melted, with more than 1,400 varieties, cheese can be savored and enjoyed in countless ways. This month is dedicated to one very special cheese-related recipe. April is National Grilled Cheese Month and we’re bringing you a scrumptious (and deliciously gooey) grilled cheese recipe. But first, let’s take a look at the long and storied history of the ingredient that makes this celebration possible. Continue reading

Music Origins: Mesopotamia, American Gospel and the Neurology of Faith, Part I

Mesopotamia instrumentsThrough the centuries many forms of music have arisen out of mystical or spiritual ardor:  Indian ragas, Japanese Shinto music, Madih nabawi or Arabic hymns, the classic liturgical anthems of Europe and American gospel.  Whether by the pounding of drums or the sonorous stones of Stonehenge or the arpeggios echoing against ancient cathedral walls, worship through music has defined civilizations from early times.  What is this power in music that moves humans to seek their deities in notes, rhythms and sounds? Let’s look at two very different cultures with surprisingly similar perspectives. Continue reading

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Celebrate Ancient Grilling with Double K Grilled Salmon

double k grilled salmon

Image courtesy of Taste of Home.

It’s spring! The sun is finally awakening from its chilled slumber, snows are melting and warm winds are ushering in the new season. It’s time to head outside, fire up the grill and invite your friends and family over for a barbecue. Did you know that when those coals heat up and the smell of your repast wafts through the air, you’ll be reviving a gastronomic practice thousands of years old? Recent archaeological finds have uncovered proof that some ancient people used this very method of preparing food. In honor of this discovery, we’re featuring a flavorful salmon recipe that will do your grill proud. Continue reading

The Strange and Mysterious Origins of April Fools’ Day

aril foolsIt’s April Fools’ Day and whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of a joke, today will hopefully be a day for laughter and good-natured conviviality. This holiday has a strange history that may reach all the way back to antiquity. Before the foolishness ensues, let’s take a minute to learn how this celebration began.

The most widely accepted origin of April Fools’ Day, also called All Fools’ Day, comes from 16th century France when the calendar was changed so that New Year’s Day was celebrated on January 1st (according to the Roman calendar) as opposed to celebrating New Year’s in late March or early April with the advent of spring. Not everyone learned of the change right away and people in the country, far from the cities, would have still celebrated a spring New Year. These people were mocked and called fools. However, Alex Boese, curator of the Museum of Hoaxes in San Diego, California and an authority on April Fools’ Day, disputes this theory. Continue reading