Strawberries and cream

For the first twenty-two years of my life, when I grew up in India, I don’t recall having seen a strawberry let alone having tasted a fresh one. But, precisely at this time of the year, and almost every year, when Wimbledon was on TV, I thought about strawberries, visualized them, and wondered how they tasted.

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In America, strawberries were one of the first fruits I looked forward to tasting. However, not all of them tasted the same, only some out of the big box from the grocery store seemed to live up to the imagined memories of past. Strawberries are delicate especially when they are ripe so much so one does not stack them too much lest they get bruised. The need to transport them long distances likely resulted in varieties of strawberries that were firmer, and somewhat less flavorful, compounded by the fact that not all may have been fully ripe when picked.

I remember walking through strawberry fields for the first time hoping to see rows upon rows of bright, red berries only to find out that one had to wade through the leaves to get to the hidden berries. They didn’t seem to like the sunlight too much and when I did get to the berries, not all of them were bright red and ripe to be picked.

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Ripe strawberries taste different from unripe or not fully ripe ones about as much as small wild strawberries taste different from some of the larger varieties, a fact that is reflected in the selling price of these berries at some markets.

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Strawberries from the woods

Transported in short stacks to prevent bruising, ripe strawberries don’t have a long shelf-life either.

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The strawberry is not really a fruit but an enlargement of the receptacle of its flower, but if one must call it a fruit it seems to be the only kind with its seed on the outside.

 

The strawberries that arrive at Wimbledon village come from within an hours drive from nearby Kent, picked fresh the day before (or, early on the day of as is reported this year), arriving at 5:30 in the morning each day they are sold to be inspected before they are hulled and served in measures of punnets - one punnet being no less than ten berries – along with, as is always the custom, double cream1. I can’t think of events that have celebrated the freshness of a fruit for as long as Wimbledon has in a way where clearly, the tradition seems to have had an influence even in parts of the world where boys don't grow up eating strawberries.

Reference:
1. www.wimbledon.com

 

8 thoughts on “Strawberries and cream

  1. Jeff

    I read your post first thing this morning and really enjoyed it - I never did get to try strawberries on the Wimbledon greens, but did take a train there one summer weekend just to see the gates... I think my own fondness for strawberries and cream developed growing up with strawberry pies - these were mountain-high piles of fresh glazed strawberries in a pie crust, always with a fresh container of whipped cream, that we would get in season from the local pie shop in southern CA, Marie Callender's (at that time they had restaurants, and perhaps still do). Occasionally Mom would also make her own strawberry pies, and whipped cream featured just as importantly! I think in the UK the cream is sometimes just drizzled on the berries, but our "tradition" has always been to have it whipped. Fond memories - thank you for "whipping them up."

    Reply
    1. Bala

      "Mountain high piles of fresh glazed strawberries in a pie crust...fresh container of whipped cream" - sounds wonderful!

      You're right, I think, in that whipped cream is often seen in the US as opposed to unwhipped cream, though when the unwhipped cream can form peaks without being whipped as in the double/triple cream, I guess a little goes a long way...

      Thank you for sharing your strawberry memories of growing-up in California.

      Reply
  2. sachin sankar

    an early summer day going stawberry picking and eating the overripe fruit in the feild having the fruit stain your shirt is as close to heaven as is possible in England

    but for an intense strawberry experience try the small but power packed alpine stawberries
    with champagne
    or my favorite fruit salad freshly picked strawberries with black pepper and balsamic viniger with a few drops of coldpressed extravirgin olive oil

    Reply
    1. Bala

      Lovely to hear what the summer strawberry picking experience in England means to you!

      It seems that the Alpine strawberries are synonymous to the French fraises des bois, or "strawberries from the woods" mentioned in the blog.

      I agree that black pepper and balsamic vinegar compliment the flavor of strawberries very well - I have never tried cold pressed extra virgin olive oil in this combination though. I am intrigued, and will try it soon - thank you!

      Reply
  3. Sudhakar

    My fondest memories are of the strawberry pocking days in Nottinghamshire! More than anything my daughter, would eat so much as she was picking that she would literally burst

    Reply
    1. Bala

      Thank you for sharing your story of picking strawberries - I can quite imagine how easy it is to feel like one is bursting from strawberries, even as an adult!

      Reply
  4. nirmala

    This is called picture perfect, the picture is tempting enough to touch the screen to feel the luscious fruit. In comparison without complaint we have enjoyed the strawberries available locally, Brings back memories of the strawberry cheese cake I have made specially for my daughter who always appreciated the effort and how she enjoyed decorating it with thin slices overlapping at the edge of the cheese cake. I wish I had taken some pictures to post.

    Reply
    1. Bala

      Thank you for your kind comments!

      It is good to know that you enjoyed the locally available strawberries, it is just that I had never tasted them when I was in India. It is always good to know when the effort that goes into preparing a dish is appreciated and results in enjoyment - thank you for sharing your story.

      Reply

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