My parents had an allotment. Most of my childhood memories revolve around getting to and from dacha (Russian version of an allotment) and being there. It was 4 km away from my hometown and my parents didn’t have a car. At first, we commuted on a motorbike. All four of us. It was one of those motorcycles with a sidecar. Me and my brother were in a sidecar,  with me pretty much crouching near my brother’s feet as 4 people were not allowed on that type of a vehicle. When a policeman would stop us, my heart was pounding so loudly I was scared the policeman would realise I was hiding at the bottom of the sidecar. It never happened. Nevertheless, the motorbike disappeared at some point. I never questioned why. I was glad. Afterwards, we had to reach dacha by foot. Fortunately, we only had to do so during summer and there was always a treat awaiting upon our arrival. A treat in those sunny Soviet days was fruit or even vegetables. Food was scarce, that’s why my parents invested into this allotment. I was not aware of any of these issues at that age and was mostly interested in the reward. In June, the reward was a bountiful harvest of strawberries. We had quite a variety of those. My cousin and I would race towards strawberry patches and then play the game of finding the biggest berry.  After filling our belies with fresh strawberries we would proceed with making a ‘dessert’, which was also a competition.

My recipe was:

– large strawberries

– soured cream

– sugar

Yes, the recipe was very simple, but the key to the successful result was in in the process. Strawberries had to be crushed in a mug. If you cut strawberries with a knife you do not get the juice. And strawberry juice was the secret part of the recipe, which was then mixing well with the soured cream and loads of sugar on top. Slicing strawberries with a spoon takes quite a bit of effort and time. My cousin had exactly the same recipe but we both strived for perfection in getting the proportions right and in this attempt we were extremely competitive. Or so we thought. A dessert tastes better if you make your own. Or it tastes even better if it’s someone else’s. We always shared and evaluated our results. Sitting on the roof of the house, which was not yet properly built,  we were eating strawberries while watching the sunset and trying to ignore mosquitos preying on our sun-kissed flesh.

June was for strawberries.


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