Thursday, 27 June 2013

Strawberry Fair

Fantasy Bob’s loyalty was being tested to the limit. He faced an impossible choice. A decision had to be taken. The alternatives were clearly in front of him and he could opt only for one. The moment of truth had arrived. His heart beating wildly, the sweat beading his forehead, he closed his eyes and pointed weakly. He had failed.

He had innocently agreed to a cup of tea in the café. He had not expected to be confronted with this dilemma. His loyalty to the empire biscuit had been broken. He had chosen an alternative delight of the Scottish patisserie. Another distinctive creation of Scottish master bakers. The strawberry tart. A sweet pastry shell a filling of sweetened cream holding a pyramid of an inverted strawberry all covered with a distinctive red syrupy sauce. A masterpiece. Impossible to resist even when the temptress of the café owner displayed it alongside an empire biscuit. But such stressful choices should not be forced on a person, or at least on FB, and café proprietors should be warned accordingly. To have one of these delights available automatically renders a 5 star review. To have both is too much of a good thing and reduces such as FB to a quivering state of indecision.

The strawberry tart used to be a seasonal product in the bakers of FB’s youth. Now strawberries come from all parts of the globe at all times of the year and the strawberry tart is available all year round. And this means that the strawberry tart is not so special as it once was. It is still irresistible but not so special. Just like Test cricket – not a seasonal product any more.

FB assumes that by comparison with the empire biscuit, the strawberry tart is the healthy option. Forget the cream, butter and sugar and the vast number of additives that give the red sauce its startling colour, at the heart of the confection is a real live piece of fruit. And not just any fruit but a strawberry which is rich in nitrate and can increase the flow of blood & oxygen to the muscles by significant amounts. This prevents muscle fatigue. Scientific tests have shown how subjects who ate nitrate rich foods, like strawberries, before exercising, went on longer and burned 100 more calories than those who did not. Strawberry tarts are therefore essential food before a long spell up the hill against the wind. Strawberries are also particularly high in Vitamin C, a 100g serving will give you your whole daily requirement and so help avert those summer colds that can inhibit performance. Strawberry tarts may therefore be the perfect food for cricketers. No wonder FB’s loyalty to the empire biscuit crumbled.

Yet strawberries are not associated with cricket as they are with Wimbledon and with Oxford Eights week and Henley. What is required to change this? FB can think of no cricketer with the name of a fruit, although he suspects that if he trawled all through Wisden he might find an old timer named Peach or Lemon. But certainly not strawberry. No strawberry has ever played cricket.

Darryl Strawberry
But a strawberry has played baseball. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Darryl Strawberry was one of the most feared batters in the game and a swing that was hailed as the sweetest swing in baseball. Strawberry was also a bit of a bad boy off the park, with numerous disciplinary offences and drug busts. But the fans loved him and he played with distinction for both the New York Yankees and the New York Mets, winning World Series with both. In a 16 year career he hit 335 home runs – leaving him 100th in the all time home run list.

After his playing career Strawberry was a TV pundit for a time but also went into the restaurant business. That was not as successful as he hoped and he ended up being sued by his fruit supplier for non-payment of his bill of $3,000. Which would buy FB an awful lot of strawberry tarts.

Now if only Strawberry had been a cricketer..................


  1. Cricinfo does indeed produce 5 cricketers from various parts of the globe, named Peach. For good measure, there are also 6 named Cherry. It draws a blank with Pineapple and Raspberry however.

    1. Good research - there was of course Plum Warner too.

  2. Plum Duff would have been more entertaining.

  3. Not sure but his brother Stu played for Central Districts in New Zealand and was a slow left-armer.