I stumbled upon a bottle of Robinsons Strawberries and Cream cordial while stumbling round the cramped aisles of my local off-licence. In pursuit of caustic soda (don’t put this in your SodaStream kids) to put my drains back to polished perfection, I suddenly found myself at eye-level with a bottle of evil pinky-red liquid proclaiming itself in celebration of the 60th jubilee of our esteemed Queen Liz.
I’ve got a half-hearted relationship with the strawberry as a fruit. Highly regarded by others and occupying the upper echelon of pricing in the fruit world I reckon the strawberry looks nice – like a fruit beamed down from space – but taste wise, gets trumped by the raspberry, gooseberry, blackberry. People like to think of the Strawberry as quintessentially English and of course the concept of Strawberries and Cream is synonymous with watching tennis, which take it from me is a pretty minority pursuit.
Well anyway, class wars aside I can confirm that unsurprisingly Robinson’s Strawberries and Cream flavour tastes pretty rancid in its non-carbonated, still water form. Cloying toxic flavours, an aftertaste of pink wafers and enough sugar to start a treacle factory. One gulp will have you gritting your back teeth as waves of diabetic shock ride rough shod over your kidneys.
And yet… and yet… strangely… fizzy Strawberries and Cream is actually pretty nice. Sweetness is met with the balancing force of acerbic fizz and comes back with the stomach reporting confusion, but delight.
There could be a few scientific reasons for this and no doubt better men than me, wearing white coats and espousing the benefits of randomly controlled trials would be able to come up with an explanation involving perhaps a gesture towards molecules moving from one place to another due to the addition of carbon dioxide.
For my part I would instead point back to a memory of a childhood sweet: the most excellent and long-lasting strawberry with cream. Part acidic strawberry taste, part dose of sugary custard goodness, it was a favourite of kids across the imperial measurement bearing quarter bag of sweets land. I have recreated this sweet in a drinks form, the fizz providing the tang and the syrup providing the sugar and so here we have another example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
As to whether the queen likes this kind of thing or views it as a suitable celebration for 60 years of service, who can say. However, I like to imagine her quaffing a pint of the stuff, lacing Philip’s alcoholic beverages with the cloying taste and pouring it on the backs of any corgis within an easy reach.