Tennis players aren’t the only servers to look out for at Wimbledon. Like any popular sporting event, the masses must be appeased with some sort of delectable treat. At the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, that delectable summer treat is a little different from hotdogs and pretzels… it’s fresh strawberries and cream!
Well, harvest-wise, the tournament falls during the English summer when the fruit is at its peak ripeness. For the last 25 years, a local farm, the Hugh Lowe Farms in Kent, has been supplying fresh strawberries and raspberries to the people at Wimbledon.
It’s been a family business since 1893. The pickers start at dawn, selecting only the best berries. Consumed fresher than fresh by tennis-goers. The very same day! That’s 28,000 kilograms of strawberries and 445 kilograms of raspberries each tournament. Those numbers are nothing to sneeze at. Here’s a lovely video from the farm.
But how did the tradition reach Wimbledon, and who invented the winning combination in the first place? So the rumour goes, this combination was first created by Thomas Wolsey, one time Lord High Chancellor of England in the court of King Henry VIII. As the right-hand-man to the King, Wolsey knew how to entertain. Cooks in the Hampton Court Palace, where they spent most of their time, were expected to feed 600 people every day! Complicated Tudor banquets included multiple animals served at once and no doubt multiple desserts served at once, too. Undoubtedly a great relief to the cooks, one of the desserts was the simple combination of fresh strawberries and cream.
This theory is challenged, however, as dairy products were at the time viewed as peasant food. This means it’s more likely one of his servants invented the simple dish and therefore passed credit on to Wolsey. Time-traveling back to the 21st century, though… Did you know May 21st is National Strawberries and Cream Day?
With summer slowly approaching, we’re starting to see more and more berries available. So why not indulge in Wimbledon’s famous tradition? If that’s too simple, maybe you prefer one of the many strawberry desserts that exist today. Perhaps strawberries shortcake, or maybe a piece of cheesecake, or doughnut? You can’t go wrong with strawberries and cream parfait, or mousse, but let’s not forget Eton Mess… Include these ingredients and everyone wins!
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