Monday, October 22, 2018

Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry or Coffee?

By Jean Kirshenbaum | Sarasota, FL 10/22/18, 2018



It wasn’t all strawberries and cream for Serena Williams and Roger Federer,but the folks at Wimbledon, especially the American commentators, as usual, made a big deal of the strawberries and cream tradition.

This dessert is generally a fan favorite, but not to sports journalist Jon Wertheim. Who in 2017 wrote in Sports Illustrated a disparaging piece under this headline:

Wimbledon is truly a treasure, but its classic strawberries and cream snack is not.

What about ice cream--the best alternative? In fact, after signing a five-year deal with the Lawn Tennis Association, the tournament’s organisers, Haagen-Dazs has been named the Official Ice Cream of The Wimbledon Championships.

“Haagen-Dazs is proud to be the Official Ice Cream of Wimbledon. As the luxury ice cream brand of choice for both Wimbledon and British Tennis, there’s no better way to indulge yourself whilst enjoying moments of sporting greatness on the court!"

I should warn you, I’m with Wertheim. Don’t give me strawberries and cream. Give me ice cream, but not the official ice cream of Wimbledon, Haagen-Dazs, which tastes of too much butter fat to me.

This brand was all the craze a few decades ago, when Americans thought it was a Danish product. But –Who knew? It’s an American brand, established by
Reuben and Rose Mattus in the Bronx, New York, in 1961.

Starting with only three flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and coffee, the company opened its first retail store in Brooklyn, New York, of all places, a locale not all that far from Flushing Meadows, home of the US Open.

Strawberries and cream have been associated with Wimbledon since its inception in 1877, and soon the dish became synonymous with the tournament. So much so that each year, says Wertheim, we get a barrage of “… meaningless statistics about the volume sold…”—usually in tons.

As silly as this may seem, there are even recipes for this simple dish. “You want to keep the strawberries shape for a nice presentation .After removing the leaves, take a small paring knife and cut around the white part so that a ‘cone’ shape of the core is removed and from the side, the strawberries still look perfectly intact.” In the world-famous words of John McEnroe, “YOU CAN NOT BE SERIOUS”

What is interesting about the recipe is that most people outside of Great Britain probably don’t know that the cream is not whipped or sweetened. The thick, cold cream is simply drizzled over the sweet strawberries and eaten that way.

Wertheim, however takes great pleasure in maligning, not eating, strawberries and cream, which he describes as merely “a bowl with a few lonely berries swimming in pinkish milk …”

Poor snack, says Wertheim and a silly recipe, in my opinion. Isn’t it a matter of just cutting off the green top? There is even an idio-video to show you how.

So now, I am eager to leave the pretentious topic of strawberries and cream and turn to the ordinary, everyman topic of ice cream. Before I do that, however, I must tell you this about strawberries and cream. I recently meant an English woman who has been to Wimbledon many times. So I asked her: "Do people at Wimbledon really eat strawberries and cream?"   "Yes," said. "But you would never find it on a dessert menu." Ha- so there!

I believe that ice cream is a much better use of cream than strawberries and cream. We here in hot and humid Sarasota, FL. prefer ice cream. It’s cheap and delicious.

Ice cream is especially important to my friend Mara and me, because we bet on matches and the stakes are ice cream at Abels, our favorite ice cream parlor. Hands down. Abels has the best ice cream in town. Coffee is their best seller, which would make the Mattus family proud. (For packaged ice cream I would recommend Breyer’s Chocolate Truffle, and Turkey Hill, which began in Pennsylvania “a long long time ago’’ with, of all flavorsstrawberry! )

By the way, did you know that Tennis is one of the most bet upon sport in the world? I’m not going any deeper into this topic, because it’s controversial and my betting expertise doesn’t go beyond ice cream.

Oddly, our format is Winner buys! In fact our chivalrous husbands, Gary and Tom, usually rush to the register to pay, and we let them. Yes, there is no feminism when it comes to ice cream. And there are no losers. (As an aside, Gary won’t bet a nickel on anything. Ice cream/ tennis is his one exception.)

Mara and I have now bet on so many matches- rounds one through finals-- in so many tournaments that we don’t even know who is ahead in wins. For Wimbledon, we have tried to limit our wagers to semis and finals. But we did give in few times and wagered on earlier rounds. I lost on the Kerber-Ostapenko match and also the Williams-Goerges match. Truth be told, I didn’t expect Serena to get to the quarters, let alone the final.

And what about the finals?

Mara’s take will be a chocolate ice cream soda. For the sake of tradition, I may go with a strawberry sundae with whipped cream.

The guys, of course, will buy the ice cream, so now it’s just the glory of picking the winners. If we can’t split our bets, we will just have to start over again with the U.S. Open.

I dunno, Mara, I think we have to choose a different gambling format for the Open. Wagers only on the finals. With all that ice cream during Wimbledon, I’ve gained 4 pounds. Was it worth it? Hell, yeah.

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