Wimbledon traditions include a strict dress code for competitors, the eating of strawberries and cream by the spectators, and Royal patronage.That’s right, strawberries and cream are almost as much identified with Wimbledon as the tennis.
Strawberries have a history that goes back over 2,200 years. Strawberries grew wild in Italy as long ago as 234 B.C.
Some believe that the name came from the practice of placing straw around the growing plants for protection, others believe the name originated over 1000 years ago because of the runners which spread outward from the plant. The name may have been derived from the Anglo-Saxon verb to strew (spread) and the fruit came to be known as streabergen, straberry, streberie, straibery, straubery, and finally, “STRAWBERRY’ to the English.
Early Roman writers including Pliny and Ovid mention strawberries, but there is no mention of cultivation. The strawberry’s low growing habit spurred the Roman writer Virgil to warn children to look out for serpents lurking in the grass when picking the wild fruit. This association with snakes and other dangerous creatures continued into the 12th century when Saint Hildegard of Germany declared the strawberry unfit for human consumption because it grew on the ground where snakes and toads could slither and crawl upon the fruits.
Strawberries finally overcame their bad reputation around the 14th century when the first reports of cultivation are recorded. The first major attempts at cultivation are recorded in France in 1368 when King Charles V planted 1200 strawberry plants in the gardens of the Louvre and a few years later when the Duke and Duchess if Burgundy planted thousands of plants at their Dijon estate.
It’s the time of year when strawberry festivals start popping up around the country. With the proliferation of plump, sweet strawberries to be served in many different ways, perhaps it’s time for our column to mention the silver flatware utensil designed just for this fruit: the strawberry fork.
The strawberry fork’s intended use is to pierce a berry and then dip it into a bowl of whipped cream, sour cream, or sugar. The modern world has added yogurt concoctions for dipping as well. Similar forks are called “fruit forks” and it’s difficult to distinguish between the two. Strawberry forks generally are shorter and narrower than luncheon forks. Most that I’ve seen have three extra long tines although some patterns have only two tines.
Many symbolic interpretations for the strawberries have been put forward.
and I’ve been thinking about Hieronymous Bosch and his The Garden of Earthly Delights
and that is perfect start of Wimbledon, sunshine and …………………………… strawberries.
Enjoy and watch tennis game!