Strawberries are easily one of the most alluring and widely recognised fruits. Throughout the ages, strawberries have captivated the imaginations of many, including artists, poets, and writers including Shakespeare.
The fruit has widely been regarded as a symbol for Venus – the Goddess of Love, because of its heart shape and luscious red colouring. Strawberries are also seen as a symbol of innocence, which is why medieval stone masons incorporated strawberries into the carved designs on church altars and pillars. Strawberries were also widely used for decorative purposes as until recently, they were quite hardy and tasteless, but striking in appearance.
More unusually, Thérésa Cabarrus or ‘Madame Tallien’ – a distinguished figure in Parisian social life during the Napoleon era – used to bathe in the juice of fresh strawberries for their healing properties. It is said that she used 10 kg of strawberries per bath.
Strangely, not everyone regarded strawberries in a positive light. Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII, had a strawberry shaped birthmark, which many of her peers at the time were convinces was a sign that she was a witch.
Today we can enjoy a much more juicy and fragrant strawberry that came about through accidental cross pollination, and the fruit seems to have lost it’s dark and sinister reputation, but remains quite alluring.