Strawberry mess

Beautiful lush British strawberries are coming back into season.  They seem to get earlier every year, but none the less taste very good. The following extract comes from my book Simply British (see Books) and was illustrated by John Spencer. 

‘There are only two ways of eating strawberries.  One is neat in the strawberry bed, and the other is mashed on the plate. The first method generally requires us to take up a bent position under a net – in a hot sun very uncomfortable, and at any time fatal to the hair. The second method takes us into the privacy of the home, for it demands a dressing gown and no spectators.’  A. A. Milne, Not That  It Matters .

No childhood would be complete without strawberry sandwiches or mashed-up strawberries.  The former are made by filling thin slices of buttered white bread with sliced, sugared strawberries.  The second, which is more poetically known as strawberry mess, is so simple it does not really need a recipe.  It instills a deep sense of comfort in adults. 

Serves 2

340g strawberries

caster sugar to taste

thick double cream to taste


Wash and hull the strawberries.  If large cut in half, then divide between 2 bowls.  Supply each eater with a spoon and fork, sugar and cream.  Let them mash up their strawberries to a chunky mess.  Juice will squirt everywhere.  Then sweeten to taste and add the cream.  Mash once more an eat immediately. 


Single cream or even milk can be used in place of the double cream.  Alternatively no cream is added and a small amount of orange-flower water is sprinkled over the berries before mashing.  It is all a matter of taste.


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 Illustration © John Spencer 1998