On a visit to the West Coast, I had agreed to prepare a menu for the food editor of a major California daily. The dessert was strawberries with balsamic vinegar. Unhappily, I had ignored my own principles and had committed myself to strawberries before seeing them, with the result that I had to make do with the only strawberries I could find, pale and unripe. When the editor saw them she said, “Forget about them. I am not fond of strawberries even when they are perfect. We can do without a dessert.” “If they are not good we won’t eat them,” I replied, “but you are going to taste them.” When the strawberries were done, the balsamic vinegar had erased every trace of greenness, and they tasted as though they had been penetrated by the most ardent of summer suns. We not only tasted them, we finished them. Although it is a good recipe to remember whenever you are stuck with less than ripe berries, balsamic vinegar on strawberries at their peak of ripeness is an experience not to be missed.
© 1986 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.