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Strawberries and Cream; the quintessential British summer treat. With Wimbledon on our screens for the next two weeks, it seems appropriate to delve into the history of this charming tradition which is so intertwined with this extraordinary venue.
As a little girl, I would go to Wimbledon on the heels of my mother or grandfather. Luckily for me, I had the best view perched on the shoulders of my 6ft 4” grandfather. I remember clambering up his back to catch a glimpse of players on their way to Centre Court.
Excitement, laughter and the scent of freshly cut grass whirling around in the air created a thrilling environment for a six-year-old. I played tennis as a child and my mother is a tennis coach so trips to Wimbledon comes with the territory. I often dreamt of playing on Centre Court. Every year after visiting I would try harder, run faster and dream of a life on the court.
There was always, however, one other thing that happened when we went; my mother and grandfather would get strawberries and cream! Until quite recently I hated strawberries. Loathed them. Whatever has changed inside me, I do not know, I now cannot stop guzzling them!
Strawberries and Cream seemed like such a special, luxurious treat when I went to Wimbledon all those years ago. Back then, strawberries were seasonal but nowadays we get them all year round. We’ve long outgrown the tradition of eating in season, though I’ll strongly admit I’m a big believer in finding our way back to it.
So where did the Strawberries and Cream tradition at Wimbledon start?
Historians point to Thomas Wolsey as the first person to bring Strawberries and Cream to the banquet table in 1509. Thomas would also quite often serve this dish alongside his tennis court to spectators. While it’s a little bit of a mystery as to how exactly this treasured combination got to Wimbledon, we do know that in Victorian England strawberries signalled the beginning of all things summer. A treat for the elite, of course, and something that became a common afternoon tea ritual, we can assume that by 1877 the Wimbledon elite were used to having their Strawberries and Cream, and took their delicacy to the courts!
In 2016 140,000 servings of Strawberries & Cream were served at Wimbledon. That’s 28,000kg of strawberries, roughly 10 Africa elephants’ worth! It’s safe to say this tasty tradition will be going nowhere, anytime soon.