By Michael Roddy
LONDON (Reuters) - There's a new way to ingest strawberries at Wimbledon this year but the public isn't invited and the famous berries from the nearby English county of Kent aren't eaten with a spoon and don't come with cream either.
They are being blended to bits in a special type of "smoothie".
To keep up with the ever more arcane dietary demands of professional tennis players, the Wimbledon catering service, which sells 28 tonnes of Kent strawberries doused in 7,000 liters of Devon cream every championship, this year installed Nutribullet food "extractors" in the players' restaurant.
"It was something we'd seen was becoming popular in Britain and so we thought we should be offering it," said Jonathan Parker, Wimbledon's director of catering.
The choice of ingredients for the "smoothie", including kale and spinach, sunflower, pumpkin or flax seeds, walnuts, almonds, cashews, kiwis, blueberries, raspberries, mineral water, ice, and, yes, the very same Kentish strawberries sold to the public.
The blender breaks down the cell walls of fibrous plant foods and out comes something that can be described as green liquid, with bits of other things floating around.
"They say they taste better than they look," said Emma Farrow, 21, one of the servers at the "smoothie" bar -- which also has normal "smoothie makers", in the players' restaurant, on the top floor of a pavilion with a delightful outdoor dining area overlooking the courts.
"It tastes very healthy," added co-worker Rhea Vernon, 20.
Parker said that only about 15 percent of the 500 or so "smoothies" served up daily in the players' restaurant are of the Nutribullet variety, but they have filled a need.
"Some of the players have got certain things they want in their diet and that's what they do," he said.
As for the public getting a taste, that is as unlikely as one of the thousands of people standing in Wimbledon's famous "Queue" for day tickets being offered a free pair of Centre Court seats for the men's final.
"We would never keep up" with demand, Parker said. "We have to be very careful with the products we have for the public, they need to be quick."
The traditional strawberries and cream, meanwhile, remain all the rage with the general public.
"It's a tradition," said Monique Valk, who works in insurance in Rotterdam and was sitting on a bench enjoying a plastic bowl of the fruit with a friend.
She said she thought Dutch strawberries were sweeter, but she wasn't complaining about the price.
"I think it's reasonable, 2.50 pounds ($3.85) for 10 strawberries, or 12... that's typical Dutch, to count the strawberries," she laughed.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)