I bought a punnet of Spanish strawberries a couple of weeks ago. Spain, I thought, that’s not so far away. Maybe they will be nice. They weren’t. Are you surprised? No, I wasn’t either. It’s that time of the year, though, when soft fruit is back on the shelves (the week-end special at the Spar up the road is £1 for a punnet of nectarines or peaches, indistinguishable in their hard scentlessness except for the half-hearted fuzz on the peaches), far, far before it’s even remotely beginning to be nice to eat.
We are lucky enough to live near a good greengrocers and within walking distance of a farmers’ market, but this time of the year makes me long for French markets – the kind you pop to to buy something for lunch, instead coming back laden with armfuls of cherries and doughnut peaches and spending the afternoon in the garden continuing the eternal competition to see who can spit their cherry stones the furthest. Currently, Mum is winning (although she wouldn’t thank me for telling you that); none of the rest of us have quite mastered the technique for the over-the-garden-fence bonus points. Proper class, we are.
Isn’t it a shame that the overlap is so slim between things which taste delicious and things that wouldn’t horrify your mother if she knew you were eating them for breakfast? And as if the list that resulted from those two categories wasn’t short enough, that’s not even it for the breakfast critera: add to the Venn diagram a section called things it’s possible to make and eat in less than twelve minutes, and the pickings are even slimmer still. Pancakes? Delicious, but unless your speed-whisking is better than mine, probably not. Kedgeree? Not even a chance. Toast, again? You see the issue.
I used to quite enjoy a breakfast of posh muesli with giant chocolate buttons, but I have since learned that this – unsurprisingly – fails the horrified-mother test. Who would have guessed? With that one out of the window I’m left woefully short of breakfast options: it turns out peanut butter on toast is truly horrible, the very idea of porridge upsets me, and the only cereal we have in the house is a box of cornflakes that have been there since we moved in, longer ago than I’m prepared to admit. Yes, I know I have mostly brought this upon myself by being too a) picky and b) disinclined to buy sensible things – like replacement cereal – at the supermarket, instead of gin, but that’s just how it is round here, I’m afraid.