Jun 2, 2009

Fragole and Fragoline, the Italian strawberries

With the advent of springtime, few pleasures shadow the guilty one derived by plunging one's face in a bowl of freshly picked strawberries. In Italy we call them fragole.

fragole - strawberries

Fragrant strawberries are a typical Italian dessert item. How sensual and healthy! When my son’s toddler posse takes over the apartment and 4 boys feels like 600 barbarians pillaging my living room, I usually manage to simmer down the energy levels for a few minutes by feeding them fragole e panna for their "merenda" (traditional Italian mid-afternoon snack).

I rid the berries of the calyx and leaves, and rinse them in cold water. I cut them in quarters and marinate them in lemon juice and brown sugar for 15 minutes. Whip up some cream and watch the kids giddily devour the week’s vitamin C intake.

Trivia Note: Did you know that Madam Tallien, a great figure of the French Revolution, who was nicknamed Our Lady of Thermidor, used to take baths full of strawberries to keep the full radiance of her skin? And that Fontenelle, centenarian writer and 18th century gourmet, believed his longevity was due to eating strawberries?

Cosmetically, they are apparently used for whitening teeth. They can likewise be crushed and made into an excellent skin exfoliant that can afterwards be dutifully licked off skin by lover.

The peanut-sized wild fragoline strawberries that grow on the volcanic rim of Lake Nemi in the outskirts of Rome, are a rare and exquisite seasonal treat. Their flavor and fragrance are so strong that at times the aroma of the fruit can be picked up as soon as the car turns off the main road approaching the town. Roll down the window and inhale Nature's own Chanel n°5.

fragoline - wild strawberries

Contrary to the larger, common or garden strawberry, that can be made into sauces, coulis, granita and marmalade, these tiny delicate and highly perishable fruits are best eaten raw, possibly hand picked right off the shrub. No need to rinse them as their growth is purely spontaneous, biodynamic and therefore fortunately not sprayed with chemicals or pesticides. Best served unseasoned in a large glass goblet with an optional dollop of vanilla ice cream on the side. Or a few drops of limoncello.

Fragole, anyone?


  1. I picked our first strawberries yesterday. We ate them warm from the sun. A splash of Strega goes well too!

  2. Yum!! I love fragole, especially with lemon and sugar like you mentioned. That makes the perfect ending to a meal in my opinion. Now I will have to try them with Strega as Scintilla suggested. Intriguing! :-)

    Happy weekend to you! Counting down the days until you come to Positano...

  3. Ha, the first to reply are my Costiera girls!

    Scintilla, are you sure you won't be there for the San Vito weekend? It would be such a pity...
    Laura, my mom was there this weekend and was caught in the Giro d'Italia and the horrible tempesta you posted about, what a shame!

    Ciao and... A PRESTO!brevermu

  4. Oops, I typed the word verification at the end of my comment... I need a nap, pronto.

  5. love strawberries! if they lead to long life..will live forever happily. funny how 4 boys can be reminiscent of mongol hordes...thank goodness 2 are only a regiment.

  6. I am completely obsessed with strawberries myself right now :)

  7. Those strawberries look SO good! I've written about our cherries and I do love them but I'm also partial to strawberries. Um, and raspberries. Anyway, we as a family love strawberries but yours do look extra special.

  8. Every day I`m looking at mine now! Soon, soon the first one will appear! Can`t wait. I have the sort that carries fruit for months, it will be heaven. Lola, first you have a nap now and then you come and wait with me. So you and I will share the first one, with whipped cream and self-made vanilla ice-cream (Amy Uncensored sent me the recipe! Wonders of the blog world). I´m now writing you a handwritten letter!

  9. Visiting your blog is contrary to the strict diet I'm into now: scarpetta, fragole and panna, you name it. But I'll keep coming, I promise.

  10. I love fragole, the WILD ones look sooo tasty...I am waiting for mine to ripen..don't have many but they are grown my me!! :-)

  11. That volcanic soil seems to do the job. We have those small berries here that are eaten the same day they are picked. Very flavorful.

  12. yes me, ME, I want some.I adore strawberries and cream almost as much as I do raspberries and cream.
    Summer fruit I just love it.

  13. You say:
    Fragole, anyone?
    I say: Yes please - I love strawberries.
    I love also raspberries - yum to both. Great with cucumber sandwiches.
    Speak soon ~ Eddie

  14. Hello, dear Lola! My mouth is watering. There is nothing better than a strawberry, just picked, still warm from the sun. Here in Wisconsin, they won't be ripe for a few weeks yet, but then I may have to try them as an exfoliant, too. (I'll have to make sure my teenagers will be away from home for a while. . . .)

    Best wishes!

  15. ah, gorgeous fragole! you make them almost jump off the screen, with your beautiful photos!!

  16. You turn simplicity into a high art form!!!! Just lovely!!!! And strawberries have always been a personal favorite!! Fragole resembles one of my favorite childhood strawberry desserts...You are a wonderful Mum, and are building beautiful memories!!! Gorgeous post! You are amazing! ~Janine XO

  17. For a period of a few months, I was a delivery driver for a fruit-and-produce company. We delivered carton upon carton of fresh strawberries to our customers. All day long, when I was driving between stops, I would eat lovely fresh strawberries. They are still one of my favorite treats.

  18. I eat them every chance I get this time of year. Some of them actually taste like strawberries and not the cardboard tasting, picked green junk the stores sell most of the year. Those little ones you show make my mouth literally water when I look at them.

  19. Strawberries and cream..........mmmmmmmmhhhhh!
    Lovely photos, very tempting and I am feeling hungry now.

  20. Brian - Depends on the regiment's tactic... :)
    City Girl - I know, me too!
    Dumdad - Thank you for stopping by. Grab a basket and help yourself!
    Geli - Yawn! Warm, just-picked wild strawberries, a good friend and a dollop of home made ice cream: what else can I ask of life?
    Giorgio - Reading about good food, desserts and booze is not fattening, and it doesn't spike your cholesterol levels either!
    Anne in O - Foraging your own must be the sweetest part!
    Rosaria - Don't you just adore those small gifts of Mother Nature?
    Mandy - Raspberries are my other sin.
    Eddie - LOL to the sandwiches, cheeky!
    Angela - Send the kids to do the shopping while you... exfoliate.
    Karen - Oh how I just wish I could add fragrances to my posts...
    Janine - You make me blush.
    Suldog - I would kill for that job!
    LoriE - Fortunately seasonality and local eating are very much the rules applied in every day food philosophy here in Italy.
    Maggie - Mission accomplished, then!

  21. Yum... my son would eat nothing but strawberries if he had his way.

    It's difficult to imagine not liking them.

    best wishes

  22. Yes,oh yes,yes! ooh!!!!I love Strawberries. Your post was wonderful, and I love the treat you give the littlies.I am going to do that too.
    Love to you.xx♥

  23. Oh, those wild ones, we've some wild ones of our own. One of those special memories is when I had a summer job working a cut the grass, tend the paint and all kinda man's job and my foreman and I snuck off to the woods to pick wild strawberries. So sweet. All of it. The eating and the sneaking.

  24. Our season is just starting in Michigan. I bought some at the market today. I don't know where they're growing wild around here, but I agree - those are the absolute best.


    BTW... I serve them pretty much the same way you do, but I use just 1 TBS white sugar and 1 TBS Grand Marnier for about 2 cups cut up. Then I leave them as long as possible. The Grand Marnier might not be good for the toddler posse, though.

  25. Yes please to "Fragole, anyone?" Maybe after a supper of cardoons. Delicious.

  26. I just KNEW I was getting some great benefits from consuming the gallons of strawberries I do every summer!! I've only ever marinated my strawberries in sugar and can't wait to try the lemon juice and brown sugar mix! Sound absolutely scrumptious.

  27. Just found your blog through Bell'Avventura and it is terrific. These strawberries bring me back to my last trip to Nemi, sitting overlooking the lake.