No, not a How to Eat a Creme Egg guide 🙂
We had a very interesting conversation a few weeks ago with a friend of ours regarding scones. Yes, we really are that boring! It never occurred to me that there may be more than one way to eat a scone or construct it. To me it felt as natural as buttering toast and I’d never questioned my execution. As regular readers of my blog know, I love a good Afternoon Tea! I’ve even written a ‘Best Of’ for ones you absolutely should try in the North East.
Jam and Cream or Cream and Jam?
Our friend asked which I spread on the scone first: jam or cream? I answered quite emphatically, as if there was no other logical answer. I top the scone with the clotted cream first, then dollop the jam on top.
Apparently though, this is a geographical conundrum. I googled and found an interesting article on the etiquette of a Cream Tea. In Cornwall they would place jam on the scone first, whereas Devon would use the cream as the base.
I have always put the denser of the two toppings on first. This would and should always be the cream. I think it’s mad to do it any other way! If the jam is on first my feeling is it would become ‘muted’ by the cream. Crazy Cornish!
I’ve never witnessed it anywhere I’ve visited but apparently some eateries serve their Teas with squirty cream. If that ever happened to me I’d be bidding them a farewell! On a recent trip we were served what tasted like fromage frais with our scones and I was unimpressed. It has to be clotted cream, end of. I’m very fond of Tiptree Jam with the Tea, too. Getting a little jar like that on the stand reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, for some reason. The literary benchmark for all Afternoon Teas, it would appear.
How Do You Eat Yours?
I was absolutely horrified the first time I witnessed Raf eating a scone. He demolished it like he was eating a doorstop sandwich. There was no delicacy about it! Jon Richardson’s description of watching someone eating an apple on a train, ‘anus’ and all, was apt in this instance 🙂 Admittedly this was a pre-constructed scone, which meant if he had split it apart he may have had an uneven ratio of cream to jam on each half. He ended up with icing sugar, cream and crumbs everywhere as he ate it while standing. Who serves a Cream Tea when you aren’t sitting? Newcastle Council, that’s who. How very inelegant.
I have always sliced my scone in half to make it easier to eat. Plus, being the greedy guts I am, it means on a psychological level I feel like I’m getting twice the scone. There’s a suggestion in the article I found that the scone should have ‘bits’ broken off and then ‘buttered’ with the cream and jam to avoid social mishaps. Just as long as it isn’t being eaten like a burger I don’t care how you scoff it.
Plain or Fruity?
I don’t like dried fruit. Never have, never will. As a child I used to think fruitcake had flies in it. It was an absolute punishment for old people to be always served these disgusting cakes to me. The only time I’d entertain Christmas cake was to eat the icing from it! When I got married we had a chocolate cake. The elderly relatives insisted on a fruit layer so I could save it for a child’s christening or wedding anniversary. It ended up being binned when the freezer defrosted. In all honesty, I had no idea who would eat the blighter if it ever had reason to be utilised. Silly traditions!
One of the reasons I was never keen on a Cream Tea was the fact that places I had historically visited insisted on having disgusting fruit scones as the only option. It was only when I discovered the wonderful Jesmond Dene House that I realised teas could feature other scones. In fact, every time we visit JDH now I ask in advance if we can just have the plain variety.
As I get older I’m trying to be less fussy. This means I will eat a fruit scone, on very rare occasion. According to a Guardian article I read Cream Teas should only feature plain scones, and who am I to argue with their authority? I’m wholeheartedly onboard, which means I will no longer have suffer a sultana massacre on the side of my plate. No more fruit, do you hear me?!
Ultimately, eat it however you want to eat it. The important thing is that you enjoy the experience. Just make sure you wear an elasticated waistband to allow for tummy ‘expansion’ if you’re partaking in a proper Afternoon Tea with cakes and sandwiches too! If you’re just having a Cream Tea you might just get away with the skinny jeans 🙂 Let me know your thoughts on this sacred institution.
Thanks for reading,
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