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A Taste of Tradition: The Classic Foods of Wimbledon

When tennis fans think of Wimbledon, they often picture pristine grass courts, all-white outfits, and nail-biting matches. But for food enthusiasts, Wimbledon conjures images of strawberries and cream, Pimm’s Cups, and other quintessentially British treats. Let’s explore the history and enduring popularity of the foods traditionally served at this prestigious Grand Slam tournament.

Strawberries and Cream: A Wimbledon Icon

No food is more synonymous with Wimbledon than strawberries and cream. This simple yet delightful dessert has been served at the tournament since its inception in 1877. But why strawberries?

The timing of Wimbledon coincides perfectly with the British strawberry season, which typically runs from late May to early July. In the Victorian era, strawberries were a luxury item associated with summer garden parties. Serving them at Wimbledon added a touch of elegance to the event.

Today, Wimbledon serves around 2 million strawberries during the tournament. They’re picked fresh each morning from farms in Kent and served within 24 hours. The classic preparation remains unchanged: strawberries are simply hulled and served with a dollop of fresh cream.

Pimm’s: The Unofficial Drink of Wimbledon

While strawberries and cream reign supreme in the food category, Pimm’s holds court as Wimbledon’s signature beverage. This gin-based liqueur was invented in 1823 by James Pimm, who served it as a digestive aid at his London oyster bar.

Pimm’s became associated with Wimbledon in the 1970s when it was first sold in jugs to spectators. The classic Pimm’s Cup cocktail – Pimm’s No. 1, lemonade, and chopped fruit – quickly became a crowd favourite. Its refreshing taste and low alcohol content make it perfect for sipping during long summer matches.

Today, Wimbledon serves over 300,000 glasses of Pimm’s each year. The drink has become so iconic that many fans consider it an essential part of the Wimbledon experience.
Try my recipe for delicious and thirst-quenching Pimm’s punch.

Tea and Scones: A Very British Tradition

No British sporting event would be complete without tea, and Wimbledon is no exception. The tradition of afternoon tea dates back to the 1840s and has been a part of Wimbledon since its early days.

Spectators can enjoy a proper afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and a selection of cakes. While not as famous as strawberries and cream, this quintessentially British offering adds a touch of refinement to the proceedings.

Fish and Chips: A Classic Court-Side Snack

While not unique to Wimbledon, fish and chips have been popular among spectators for decades. This British staple provides a hearty meal for fans spending long days courtside.

Wimbledon’s fish and chips are made with sustainably sourced cod or haddock, coated in a crispy batter, and served with thick-cut chips (fries to Americans). Malt vinegar and tartar sauce are traditional accompaniments. Make it at home with my easy recipe.

Champagne: Celebrating in Style

Champagne has been associated with Wimbledon since the tournament’s early days. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was primarily enjoyed by members of the All England Club and their guests.

As Wimbledon grew in prestige, champagne became more widely available to spectators. Today, around 25,000 bottles are consumed during the tournament, with many fans indulging in a glass to celebrate a favorite player’s victory or simply to enhance the festive atmosphere.

Changing Tastes: Modern Additions to the Menu

While Wimbledon takes pride in its culinary traditions, the menu has evolved to reflect changing tastes and dietary requirements. In recent years, organizers have introduced a range of international cuisines and vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

Sushi, pizza, and salads are now available alongside traditional fare. However, these modern additions are carefully curated to maintain the tournament’s reputation for high-quality food and drink.

The Enduring Appeal of Wimbledon’s Food Traditions

The foods traditionally served at Wimbledon have become integral to the tournament’s charm and appeal. They reflect British culinary heritage while embodying the elegance and tradition of this prestigious event.

For many fans, indulging in strawberries and cream or sipping a Pimm’s Cup is as much a part of the Wimbledon experience as watching world-class tennis. These culinary traditions connect spectators to the tournament’s rich history and add to the sense of occasion that makes Wimbledon unique among sporting events.

As Wimbledon continues to evolve, its classic foods remain a beloved constant, bridging the gap between past and present. Whether you’re lucky enough to attend in person or watch from afar, these iconic treats offer a taste of the Wimbledon magic that keeps fans returning year after year.

And for something a little bit different:

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Strawberry Pimm’s Scones

Enjoy this refreshing combination of all things British.
Course Afternoon Tea
Cuisine English
Keyword scones, Wimbledon
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

For the Scones

  • 2 cups All purpose flour 300 grams
  • 4.5 tsp. baking powder
  • 70 g butter, cold cut into small cubes
  • 30 g light brown sugar
  • 2 large lemons zested
  • 150 ml buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp full-fat milk

For the Fruit

  • 3 tbsp Pimm's
  • 1 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 2 cups strawberries hulled and sliced
  • 1 large orange cut into cubes
  • 1 handful Mint leaves

For the Cream

  • 300 ml Whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. icing sugar
  • 50 ml Pimm's

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 400F/220C/200C fan/gas 7. Cover a baking sheet with baking parchment. Put the flour and baking powder in a large bowl, add a pinch of salt, then rub in the butter with your fingertips until it is mostly incorporated – unlike pastry, you don’t need to worry about rubbing the butter in too finely. Stir in the sugar and lemon zest. In a jug, mix the buttermilk with the milk. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, then pour in the liquid. Use a knife to bring the dough together.
  • Tip out onto a clean work surface and bring together with your hands. Patting is better than rolling so that you don’t overwork the dough.
    Stamp out eight scones with a 7cm fluted cutter – you’ll need to reshape the dough once from the trimmings.
    Put the scones on the baking sheet and bake on the top shelf for 10 mins until risen and the tops are golden. Cool on a wire rack.
  • Mix the Pimm’s and caster sugar in a bowl. Stir in the fruit, cover and infuse in the fridge for 1 hr, then stir in the mint leaves.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the cream, icing sugar and Pimm’s until the mix just holds its shape.
  • Halve the cooled scones. Top the bottom half with a spoonful of cream and a spoonful of fruit, drizzle over some of the syrup, then sandwich with the top half.
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