Wimbledon begins today and all eyes will be on the All England Club, this summer’s most prestigious sporting event. As I sit at home, I can just close my eyes and am transported to the lush green lawns of SW19, bathing in the sparkling sunlight of London. I can vividly imagine the hustle and bustle of the happy campers queuing to get tickets, taste the “Robinson’s squash” being sold on the grounds and smell the sweetness of the age-old tradition of Strawberries and Cream.
Wimbledon is synonymous with Royal Patronage, its white dress code and, without doubt, strawberries and cream. The relationship between strawberries and cream and Wimbledon can be traced as far back as 1877. But legend has it that it was George V, who increased the popularity of this summer dessert at the grounds of Wimbledon. Being a summer fruit, Wimbledon and strawberries both signified the arrival of summer. Playwright George Peel wrote a song about strawberries and summer in his play “The Old Wives Tale”;
“When as the rye reach to the chin,
And chopcherry, chopcherry, ripe within,
Strawberties swimming in the cream,
And schoolboys playing in the stream…”
Reading this poem, makes me travel back to medieval England on a hot summer day, clothed in a white, long Shakespearean dress with an ivory,lace umbrella, drinking strong brewed tea and eating sweet, succulent strawberries in the garden. Ah! seems like the good life.
Fact: Strawberries are not actually a berry; they belong to the rose family, a variety called Fragaria.
In fact, the origins of the word “strawberry” too can be traced back to Old English. It comes from the word “Streawbelige” or “Streowberie”, a combination of “strewed” and berry.
Strawberries have always been the fashionable fruit to eat in England and ever since their association with Wimbledon, their popularity has soared. When at the grounds of Wimbledon, you cannot wait to get your hands on the large, succulent, juicy strawberries doused in a generous helping of double cream. I am not much of a cream fan, but the coming together of sweet strawberries and velvety double cream just awakens my sensory palette. It is heaven in a plastic cup.
The juiciness of the strawberries are proof of the fact that they are picked from a farm in Kent a day before and then delivered to the Wimbledon grounds at 5:30 am for inspection. Hence, you can taste the freshness of the fruit from the first bite.
Fact for the weight-conscious: The cream used in making this dessert contains at least 48% butterfat.
But that should not deter you from tasting it at least once. Just whet your palette slightly and see where it takes you.
Fact: At least 27,000 kilos of strawberries are consumed at Wimbledon yearly
7,000 litres of cream are used annually to make this dessert. (Courtesy:bbc.co.uk)
If you happen to be in the United Kingdom this summer, explore your taste buds and try their famous strawberries and cream. Better yet, if you are in London, what better way to enjoy strawberries and cream other than in the background of the lush green lawns at the All England Club in SW19.