With Wimbledon upon us, everyone is getting into the spirit of the tournament. Hopes of Andy Murray retaining his title are strong and with many preparing to glue ourselves to our screens our minds have, of course, turned to food. When thinking of the quintessential food for Wimbledon, everyone thinks of strawberries and cream, an important snack for court-side viewing. It’s the lot in life of those of us who work at a food and drink agency, to often see the event catering in action as much as we do the back and forth of the ball! It is so popular, in fact, that 140,000 portions of strawberries were sold at the tournament in 2016, not to mention those eaten by viewers at home.
The epitome of Britishness, food and drink at Wimbledon is always classy, including cucumber sandwiches, scones, Pimms, Champagne and the most British of all, tea. There are endless pictures of spectators on Murray Mount enjoying a bowl of strawberries and cream every year.
Some have even taken the idea and expanded on it, creating new recipes based on the dessert we know and love. From strawberries and cream cakes to Pimms ice lollies, everyone gets into the spirit, any excuse for good food!
While we all love Wimbledon food, many may not know the origins of the humble Strawberries and Cream.
Tennis has always been one of Britain’s most civilised sports, it was even played by royalty in the Tudor period. Hampton Court Palace in London, originally built for Thomas Woolsey but later taken and extended by Henry VIII, houses a tennis court that was used in at the time and is still in use today. It is here that the tradition of Strawberries and Cream is thought to have started.
Thomas Woolsey is said to have served the unlikely combination at a banquet in 1509 at which they played tennis. The quick and convenient snack was popular with those in attendance, despite dairy traditionally being food for the peasant classes. It is unknown why this combination was picked, it could have been for the ease of making it, but we do know that it was popular with the guests.
The treat was served at the first Wimbledon tournament in 1877 and has been served ever since, growing in popularity both at the tournament and with those watching at home.
So as we watch the delights of Centre Court either courtside, if you were lucky enough to get tickets, or at home and grab ourselves another portion of strawberries and cream to have with our glass of Pimms, we can justify to ourselves that it is a tradition forged hundreds of years ago. Tennis simply cannot be enjoyed without them.
Keep reading! Why not read our blog on Traditional fine dining – gone, but not forgotten?