That Time Queen Elizabeth Sent A Handwritten Note To The Royal Kitchen

Thanks to the convenience of modern transport, few of us remember a time when we needed to wait for certain fruits and vegetables to be in season before we could have them. But even though we can find most fruits and vegetables year-round now, there's something to be said for eating foods when they're meant to be harvested. (Not only will they taste better, but they'll also be more nutritious, notes WebMD.)

We can imagine this would be the case at the royal summer estate of Balmoral, where plenty of strawberries are said to be found in the gardens when Queen Elizabeth II was in residence. Scotland, where Balmoral is located, is known for its soft fruit; The Sunday Post says this comes down to the region's weather. It's cooler because it's further north, and berries can be grown for much longer periods than they can most other places.

But there was one point when the queen's seasonal strawberry dish led her to write a note to the royal kitchen.

The chef forgot to send a recipe to the queen

Royal chef Darren McGrady says Balmoral's strawberries were a favorite with the late monarch, particularly when they were in season. "The queen would relax by going strawberry picking and come back with a basket of berries for me to prepare in the kitchen. Her treat was to have them served with a chocolate mousse or chocolate ice cream. She is a chocoholic and loves anything with chocolate in it," McGrady said to Vanity Fair in 2017.

But the queen was also a creature of habit, and she liked eating the same things all the time. So when a new dish was introduced into the rotation, McGrady says the chefs were asked to provide a recipe. And if the recipe was forgotten, the chefs would get a note — as McGrady did, because he had forgotten to explain just what it was he wanted to feed her, the chef shared on YouTube.

The offending dish in question: the Scandinavian dessert Tilslørte bondepiker, which McGrady translates into "Veiled Farmer's Daughter." He served the queen a version of the treat made with those in-season strawberries — but he didn't give her the recipe. That's how he came to be in possession of a note asking, "What or who are the veiled farmers' daughters?!" Once it was explained, though, the dish was allowed, and McGrady had a handwritten souvenir of the time he accidentally went against Queen Elizabeth's orders.

Another slimy kitchen mishap

In actuality, handwritten accounts from Queen Elizabeth II weren't uncommon when it came to food. According to Charles Oliver's book "Dinner at Buckingham Palace," one note was sent to the royal kitchen when the queen spotted an unwanted visitor in her salad (per the Daily Mail). Upon finding a slug in her food, she placed it in a torn-off sheet of her comments book and wrote, "I found this in the salad — could you eat it?" 

Of course, the queen had a lot of control when it came to her menu selections. The royal chef would write meal suggestions in a leather book, in which the queen would cross out items she wasn't interested in by hand and make requests.

According to royal chef Mark Flanagan, the queen also requested that her menus be in French (via Express). The tradition of French menus in Windsor Castle began when French became the official language of the court in the 11th century, per Cheat Sheet. The menu remained this way even when hosting foreign dinners; luckily, the queen herself was fluent in the language. Queen Elizabeth II was fond of perfection when it came to menus, too. "If I get an accent wrong or mix up the masculine and feminine on the menus I send up for her approval, she'll let me know," Flanagan said, according to an article Tom Parker Bowles wrote for Town & Country in May.

A royal chef's simple tribute

Though many chefs have served the queen, former royal chef Darren McGrady was one who spoke out about the Sept. 8 loss. "You know, it's an incredibly sad day," McGrady said to CNN. "I'm feeling those sort of pains in my stomach, as if I lost a loved one, and I think the whole nation feels the same, and everyone around the world." McGrady remembered the queen on a personal level for her remarkable sense of humor. "I'm just thinking back today to when I first met her, walking the corgis along the river at Balmoral Castle and the corgis chasing me, me running away, the queen just laughing out loud."

Later that day, McGrady posted a short but sweet tribute to the queen on Instagram. It included a photo of a smiling Queen Elizabeth and a caption that read, "RIP Your Majesty. Thank you for letting me cook for you for 11 years!" The comments' section below exploded with an outpouring of support, as well as sadness regarding the loss. "I was devastated when I learned of her passing," one user wrote. "I actually checked your YouTube channel today to see if you posted anything." Another comment read, "Thoughts and prayers Darren. Thanks for sharing a little piece of her with us!"

Although the queen is gone, memories such as these will continue to carry on through those who knew her.