All-year-round strawberries are a sign of our times. The supermarkets' efforts to get supplies of certain foods whatever the season, meaning ordinary vegetables sometimes come from very extraordinary places, has its own name. PGST (permanent global summertime) is where the sun always shines, wrote Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall in G2. But nothing tastes like fruit eaten on the day it was picked.
"10 things we didn't know this time last week," BBC News, May 16, 2003
There used to be a point, at the height of the UK strawberry season, when greengrocers sold "jam" strawberries. These didn't look so perfect as the more expensive "table" strawberries, but they were often superior in the taste department, bursting with scarlet ripeness. The few minutes spent paring off bashed bits was more than compensated for by the taste, a strong, deep essence of strawberry flavour that, when folded into sweetened, whipped cream, delivered the most exquisite summer delight.
Today, jam strawberries are a sepia-tinged memory, as are local greengrocers, for that matter. They fit into our food memory box along with those holiday snaps of the foreign market where we stood in front of pungent mountains of mature cantaloupe melons, sun-ripened tomatoes and turgidly ripe apricots. These days, the reality is that most of us buy our fruit and veg in supermarkets, where all the irritating idiosyncrasies of fresh produce have been ironed out to create Permanent Global Summer Time (PGST), a curiously uniform, nature-defying new order. The UK strawberry season now miraculously extends from April right through to November.
Joanna Blythman, "Strange fruit," The Guardian, September 7, 2002