Back in my young and carefree days when I was a teenager in London, I often spent the summer days at Regent’s Park which happened to be right across from our flat. Most summers we were travelling to India or Pakistan but on the holidays when we had family visiting us, we would have to amuse ourselves in London. I actually loved staying in London because I always had friends who were also pottering around. I enjoyed the plane ride to India but after a few weeks of heat, humidity and bugs, I was so ready to come home.
Many a day, my friend Sian and I would meet at the picturesque bridge in the park that marked a half way point for us. This bridge in the summertime was something out of a Monet painting. Brightly coloured flowers spilled over the sides of the bridge and onerous vines entwined through anything that allowed free passage. The air was filled with laughter of little children and often with music from the pavilion across the way. Here bodies lay sprawled across the lawn enjoying the music and the warm rays. The little canoes on the lake would be gliding through the shimmering water, as graceful as the swans that shared the lake with them.
Sian and I would walk for hours; sometimes to the Rose Garden that was heavy with scent and vibrant colour; sometimes through the endless green fields where men played football or families were having picnics. Then there were times where we didn’t go anywhere at all and we would choose our favourite weeping willow on the bank of the lake, close by to the bridge, and we would sit under the tree and watch the people go by. Those are some of my fondest memories. The simple things in life that I had the sense to enjoy at a young age. I guess I was a bit of a romantic back then too.
Every so often, we would treat ourselves to an ice cream or an ice lolly and once or twice, we got some strawberries and cream. So famously British, strawberries and cream in the summer time and yet, I hardly ever think to just grab some strawberries, a sprinkle of sugar and pour some cream over them. It was this scrumptious simplicity that I was thinking about today and what took me down memory lane.
I had a punnet of strawberries and wanted to make a light, fresh dessert out of them. I could’ve poured cream over them and called it a day, but decided to make some Eton Mess, having remembered that I still had some meringue drops left over.
I am sure many of you have heard about Eton Mess and may know it’s history. It’s a British dessert that was created at Eton College, one of Great Britain’s most famous schools for young men. It is served at their annual cricket match against a neighbouring school every summer. It is said to have originally been made with bananas with the strawberry edition coming a bit later. The meringue crumbs were also a newer addition.
However it was made or what it has evolved into, Eton Mess is simply luscious. It is easy to make, light and fruity with a pleasant crunch from the meringue cookies. A dessert that you simply must make when strawberries are in season and screaming summertime.
This is the traditional version with straight up strawberries, cream and meringue bits. You could make the meringue shells yourself or buy them ready made. Since I really didn’t fancy having the oven on for two hours in this already hot summer, I opted to use some meringue kisses I had left over from the last time I made this. This makes 4 generous servings.