Strawberries and cream: a brief history
Strawberries and cream can be enjoyed in Nottingham, not just Wimbledon.
For most of us, this time of year just wouldn’t be the same without the chance to indulge in that most quintessentially English of treats – strawberries and cream. Indeed, along with Pimm’s, the Henley Regatta and Wimbledon, not to mention rainy bank holidays, this traditional dessert is a classic part of the British summer.
So many of us view that first bowl of the year as symbolising the arrival of the warmer weather.
We tend to tuck into this sweet yet refreshing treat without giving it too much thought, but actually there’s more to this dish than meets the eye.
Did you know, for example, that scientists have devised the formula for serving this pudding? For maximum enjoyment, eating them within three minutes means you are consuming strawberries and cream at their best. Equally, the optimal ratio of fruit to serving accompaniment is one tablespoon of single cream for every two medium-sized strawberries.
The history of this iconic pudding is shrouded in myth. Thomas Wolsey, who was close to King Henry VIII, started building Hampton Court in 1514. Its kitchens were then among England’s biggest, serving hundreds of guests each day.
While strawberries were not new, even then, someone during this Tudor period decided to add a generous dollop of fresh cream, at a time when dairy products were viewed as food for poorer people. This also created a very speedy dessert, which the cooks of Hampton Court at that time sorely needed.
So Thomas Wolsey has taken credit for the invention of the dish, but only because the name of the chef who was really responsible has been lost in the mists of time.
King George V, meanwhile, has been widely credited with introducing the classic fruit/cream combination to the Wimbledon tennis tournament during the early 1900s. After all, they were then only available during that time of the year, and highly fashionable, too.
Of course, you don’t have to be at Wimbledon, Ascot or Henley to enjoy perfect strawberries this summer. At Colwick Hall, one of the best restaurants in Nottingham, Byron’s Brasserie serves exquisite afternoon teas with an incredible range of cakes and sandwiches and a varied selection of teas and coffees in a sumptuous setting next to Nottingham Racecourse. Enjoy a generous serving of strawberries and cream and a glass of refreshing Pimm’s on our lawn as part of an indulgent English summer afternoon in Lord Byron’s former ancestral home.