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How to Cut Strawberries

Throw Back Thursday. This blog was first published on July 22, 2014.

Have you ever thought you knew how to do something until one day someone else points out how you have been doing it wrong?  Humiliated or frustrated or maybe you are one who defends your ground feeling angry with someone who had the audacity to point out your way is less than perfect. I have had several telling moments through out my life which reflected back to me how I was one of those people, the let me show you how its done people.

When Tony and I got married, we immediately moved to Florida to serve in new ministry positions.  Florida has a strawberry season.  The beginning of the season can start as early as December, but prime strawberries are in February and March.  Strawberry shortcake. Strawberry pie.  Strawberry jam.  Strawberries sliced fresh on waffles, ice cream and in salad.  My favorite is white chocolate covered strawberries, but semi-sweet or milk chocolate is fine too.

Living in Florida brought us visits from several friends and family through the years.  Two friends from our seminary days came to visit during strawberry season one year soon after we had moved. As we prepared dinner together one night, one of my friends was cutting up the strawberries for our dessert. Being the know-it-all, I quickly corrected her method of capping the strawberries.  Her response had a life changing impact.

Actually, I can’t remember exactly what she said, but I will never forget the moment standing in our yellow tiled 1930’s galley kitchen with the sunlight streaming through the window over the sink spotlighting her hands holding the knife in one hand and a ripe red strawberry in the other.  She taught me how there is actually more than one way to cut strawberries.  For this hard headed perfectionist, it was revolutionary news.  It was also difficult news to accept how my way wasn’t the only way and it really didn’t matter whether it was the best way or not.

I would like to tell you I shook my anal retentive ways immediately, but this was not to be. I remember another moment in the same yellow tiled galley kitchen, this time I stood over the original 1930’s stove.  My parents were down for a visit and I was making homemade chocolate frosting.  Timing is everything for this frosting to turn out creamy and smooth without any powdered sugar lumps.  We were headed out to dinner over at a friends and I was bringing dessert. There was much hustle and bustle and the butter on the stove was not the only thing which melted down that afternoon.

Once again the details are foggy, but the moment was framed in my mind like a snapshot.  Click.  My mom was standing in front of the sink and my dad was standing in the doorway with the swinging door propped open.  I had a complete meltdown, outlandish grown up hissy fit style while standing right in front of the stove, because of white lumps in the frosting and there was not enough time to make another batch.  I had baked a moist yellow pound cake with a giant Hershey’s milk chocolate bar flecked flawlessly throughout it.  A family favorite recipe which now in my minds eye was ruined. Reluctantly, I took it anyway drenched in white lumpy chocolate frosting.

I apologized profusely to the host upon our arrival.  After dinner when the cake was served, the cake was a hit and not one person noticed or made mentioned of the white lumps in the chocolate frosting.  NOT ONE!  Latter, I felt ridiculous about my tantrum and apologized to my parents.  I also began to realize how my friends and family are more important than a successful dessert, although dessert is extremely important especially when frosting is involved!

If you are reading this blog in hopes to learn how to cut strawberries, you need to know there is more than one way.  It’s not about how you cut strawberries or whether the chocolate frosting is smooth.  It’s about enjoying the juicy sweetness of fresh ripe strawberries in the company of friends and family.  It’s about the laughter and the moment shared more than the details of what goes on in the kitchen.

Roll forward beyond our newly wed days to present time.  It’s July and we had sweet strawberries from another part of the country. This moment was in a different kitchen with my daughter and son who were helping me prepare the food we were asked to bring for a dinner party.  They washed and cut the strawberries.  I explained how some people cap their strawberries with a spoon to get further below the stem, while others use a knife because they don’t mind the white core.  I showed them how some people slice their strawberries length wise like slivered almonds, while others slice them into circles and then there are those who chop their strawberries into chunks.

We laughed with strawberry juice running down our hands and chins.  I told them there is more than one way to cut strawberries, but cutting strawberries together is the best way.

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