Wild Strawberry: both wild and sophisticated!
For many centuries, since the Neolithic period, strawberries were exclusively wild strawberries (or woodland strawberries as they are sometimes referred to). This changed when hybrids were developed in Europe with varieties from the Americas. The wild strawberry is truly a gift of nature, a sweet and fragrant jewel that emerges magically from its natural habitat: humid earth in a mossy undergrowth at the edges of forests and woods in sub-mountainous regions. Fragaria vesca, its Latin and scientific name accurately describes its double nature: fragrance (fragaria) and small (vesca), which derives from vescor, to eat. First gathered in its wild state, it was partially tamed in royal and aristocratic gardens in several European countries, including France, England and Germany, where it was grown on the ground on beds of straw (hence its name in English) and yielded only small quantities. Not only was the fruit eaten, but the entire plant was used for its medicinal virtues in various concoctions, herbal teas, syrups and creams, in particular by the Romans who used it for making beauty masks. From the Renaissance onwards and at the court of Versailles of the Sun King, Louis XIV, men consumed this luxury fruit with wine and women with cream. The wild strawberry remains as rare and precious as ever, with its inimitable and wonderful fragrance that is both wild and sophisticated!