Among the spring and summer glories of French markets are the fresh strawberries. Long, thin oval Gariguettes are the first to appear from late March until mid-June, along with the similar elongated Ciflorettes. Then come the round Charlottes from May through mid-November, and the Mara des Bois, which have a taste and fragrance similar to wild strawberries (fraises du bois) and are so delicious in the classic French strawberry dessert, the fraisier.
The garden strawberry actually came into being in France. Wild strawberries had been popular from Roman times for their supposed medicinal properties in treating depression. In the Middle Ages, wild strawberries were transplanted from the woodlands into monastery and royal gardens; monks liked to draw the pretty fruit on their manuscripts.
Images by F A, Le grand Cricri, PD art