As you can imagine, there is a right and proper way to do just about everything in Japan. Picking or eating strawberries is no exception. Since the fruit is so delicate and easily bruised, a little instruction in how to free the fruit from the plant is actually not a bad idea. According to one expert, it is all in the stem snapping. You simply place your hand behind the fruit, thumb above the stem and fingers below. One definitive, downward turn of the wrist and voila! The fruit will fall into your palm, unblemished and with its little green frond in place.
The proper way to eat a strawberry involves another skill set altogether. Though counter intuitive, the trick is to start from the stem side and work your way towards the tip -- the berry's sweetest and most tender part. I suppose the success of this method really is a matter of taste. Are you a save-the-best-for-last type or eat-the-best-first type? I agree that eating the woody end bit last leaves a less than optimal taste in the mouth. But I also think an argument could be made for eating the best part first when one's taste buds are at their perkiest.
The other day the girls and I decided to test out this new information. Partly in response to blog viewer demand, I went back and purchased an albino strawberry. On close inspection, the white berry is really quite arresting. Swaddled in Styrofoam and resting on a bed of shredded paper, my berry came in a coffin-like plastic box. The outer skin looked so sickly pale and the seeds so feverishly red! Also, as if compensate for its lack of pigment, the albino berry was oddly aromatic. I almost wondered if its natural smell had been augmented by the growers. Anyhow, after studying the fruit from multiple angles, we cut it open. We hoped that maybe we'd find pink or red flesh inside but, like most Japanese strawberries, its innards were pure white.
Instead of popping a piece of berry into the mouth, we each nibbled a quarter, starting at the stem end of course! The taste was kind of watery and the texture should have been a touch firmer. I think my poor berry was slightly past its prime. But I am glad we gave it a go before the white strawberry season ends and some other equally odd experiment is engineered for Japan's fruit consumers.