Strawberries and cream have a mysterious association with Wimbledon. Since it’s very first match in 1877, the dish as been a constant and loving delicacy at the prestigious tournament.
Even after it’s origin, almost 140 years later, the snack has maintained its status as the most iconic dishes at served at the All England Club’s counters at the Wimbledon tournaments.
The rising heat in England is the signal to the very season of their favourite strawberries. But since long the customary also revolves around at the Wimbledon tournament. No one yet knows what is the reason behind this mysterious relationship. Nevertheless, even those who aren’t fond of the combination, seem to enjoy a good treat at the Wimbledon.
Literally speaking, there isn’t any specific answer to the question “Why just strawberries and cream at Wimbledon?”.
Although speaking about it the PR Head of the All England Club, Johnny Perkins said, “Strawberries were always in the season when the Wimbledon was played, and it was a part of the culture of Victorian England to enjoy strawberries, and it was considered to be a fashionable ritual back then, as it went well with the afternoon tea.”
The start of this famous tradition dates back to the inaugural edition of the Wimbledon tournament in 1877, a match between Spencer Gore and his opponent W.C. Marshall, wherein Spencer trumped Marshall in straight sets with an amazing display of his skills and technique, winning it 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. That day was the first time, this historic dish was served to the audience, almost 200 people. Since then the sweet dish has been an integral part of this distinguished tournament.
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ABOUT THE DELICACY
FUN FACT: The Wimbledon tournament manages to get through more than 23 tonnes of strawberries and 7,000 litres of cream every year
The strawberries are sold in baskets of 10 pieces each, priced at £3.90. Sugar and cream are optional to the person’s choice. The fruit is grown in the Southern count of Kent and are collected on the day of tournament. The process of packaging and other preparations begin on the match-day as early as 4 AM.
“Many people see Wimbledon as being like tennis in an English garden,” says Perkins. “Undoubtedly the tennis is the main thing– but it is a big part of the English summer and is a day out for people as well.”
Though, to keep this tradition going, requires a lot of work. But thanks to the advancing technology that the fruit can be harvested in any any season.
“Technology has moved on in the growing world, which means there is now more certainty of supply whatever the weather. The strawberries are now picked on the day they are served. They are harvested at around 4am and arrive at the site at about 11am and inspected.”
But with the growing trend, the tourists and the people who visit Wimbledon tournaments, never fail to amuse themselves of the rich tradition they have heard off. With the tourists flocking in every year at the museum alongside cherishing the view of the Center Court, the Wimbledon has gained fame in being termed as a “Garden”, looking after its increasing grounds on an eye pleasing form of plantations it showcases.
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“People from all over the world like to know about the traditions that have endured here over the years — and strawberries are very much one of them.”
Day by day, year by year, this dish is adding to its fan-base thousands of people. An Austrian author, Peter Brodo, was so much in love with this dish, he gave a mesmerising description to the atmosphere at Wimbledon with this dish in hand, in his book Courts of Babylon. He wrote:
“The public never appears to tire of endless courses of strawberries and cream, and the theory that you run the risk of boring people with endless photo montages of Chelsea Pensioners in their dress reds, or close-ups of a Pimm’s Cup sprouting all kinds of flora, has yet to be proven. People like Wimbledon in the same way they like blue jeans or even their own spouses: for the pleasure yielded by their reliable sameness.“
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OTHER SYNONYMOUS DISHES
Besides strawberries and cream, over the fortnight, almost 25K bottles of Lanson champagne are opened, the brand exclusive at Wimbledon. Lanson has been serving by the Royal Appointment since Queen Victoria issued it a Royal Warrant in 1901 and for almost the past 39 years, the remarkable champaigne is being poured in the Royal Box on Centre Court.
Recently, a newer member has made its addition to the Wimbledon, taking the fans by storm, and it is the Gravlax Crostini, which is topped with crème fraiche and a sprinkling of capers. Accompanying these are the classic cucumber and cream cheese dishes in addition to the regular Cornish pasties stuffed with chicken, butternut squash, and carrots.
Despite of all these dishes to choose from, the pair of strawberries and cream is still rocking the fans. It is a trend-setter and a memorable touch to the exotic and historic plays of tennis on the green turfs of Wimbledon with many more to come.