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Thoughts Like Music
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Food Friday: Cream Teas 
15th-Aug-2008 10:41 am
tea
Food Friday got a bit lost over time. I blame this most recent course of writing, plus, well, being away from LJ so much recently.

Back on track, I hope.


I noticed as the food meme1 went around that many people were slightly unsure about whether they'd actually had 'clotted cream tea' or not.

For those uninitiated into this particular food cult, a cream tea is not a tea made of cream or with cream or really any different than a regular cuppa. The difference is that along with your tea, you will receive, at minimum, a scone with jam and the expected cream.

I find that clotted cream is to the British Isles as sour cream is to the US of A. You can get decent versions elsewhere but nothing is quite like the real thing, as it were. British sour cream is too fluffy in my mind and US clotted cream is too liquidy.

Still with me?

I love cream teas, honestly. Early on in life, we made a ritual of a Friday night tea party that occasionally included cream teas.2

When golfbisquit and redthought and I toured the British Isles during the Great Bisquit Odyssey of 2001, we spent a great deal of time walking or driving through areas with a small population. We learned to carry our own food so that if we didn't find a pub, we'd still have some nosh.

While driving through the wilds of Ireland, we realized that not only had breakfast ceased to succor us, but also that we hadn't seen a town...or even a house for ages.

As we continued, however, we found an isolated house with a small sign saying 'Afternoon tea served'. We immediately stopped and approached the house.

A woman ushered us into her kitchen and plunked down a plate of scones in front of us. She returned with cream, jam, milk, and sugar and shortly after a pot of very strong tea. She left us alone with the food which we devoured. It was my first go with 'real' clotted cream and while redthought declared it disgusting, golfbisquit and I slathered our scones with this new-found ambrosia.
After we finished, the woman came to take away the tea service and after leaving with the first armful, the table contained only our empty tea cups and the small dish containing the dregs of the cream.

While she didn't say anything to us, I think she was a little surprised to see that we'd eaten the remainder of the cream by the time she returned. And were grinning like Cheshires.

I'd not had a cream tea in the British Isles since then, but before ybunny left for Vietnam, we drove down Deeside and stopped to shoot pictures of a church in Kincardine O'Neil, the oldest village on Deeside.

When the rain forced us out of the kirkyard, we ducked into the cafe next door where I had a lovely cream tea.

I can see how this wouldn't make a great summer treat in the blazing heat of US summers, but here in Aberdeen, where the summer temperature has averaged 15C/59F, it's perfect. :)



1- The one that asks which of 100 odd foods you've eaten. However, I find that most of them are not odd, or at least are not in my estimation.
2- And other times all it contained was silliness. Unsurprising, I know.
comments 
15th-Aug-2008 09:58 am (UTC)
Devon is the place for a cream tea. The Mecca of cream teas if you will. Cream teas remind me of wet and windy summer holidays as a kid sheltering from the elements with afternoon tea. Yum!
15th-Aug-2008 07:44 pm (UTC) - OoooooH!
I am an absolute FIEND for Devon double cream! :-9~
15th-Aug-2008 11:11 am (UTC)
I've never had a cream tea! *feels inexperienced* ;'(

xx
15th-Aug-2008 11:27 am (UTC)
I love cream teas...except the tea part. *g* I always order coffee, but I love scones with clotted cream.

Now I'm hungry!
(Deleted comment)
15th-Aug-2008 02:07 pm (UTC)
Hurrah for the return of Food Friday! Your cream tea anecdote really made me smile. It's the joy in the small things that makes life so gobsmackingly good.

I've had an excellent cream tea in ... shoot, the name is escaping me .. somewhere near to the Donkey Sanctuary.
15th-Aug-2008 02:33 pm (UTC)
Cream tea *drool* -I had it on a visit to London, so yummy!
15th-Aug-2008 02:51 pm (UTC)
I miss clotted cream.
15th-Aug-2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
You just had to go and mention the lovely mild temperature didn't you? I can come up with no food to make our upcoming 39.5C/103F bearable. Phooey.

This used to be no problem for me but apparently last year I suffered some freakish mutation.
15th-Aug-2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
Watermelon.
16th-Aug-2008 02:35 am (UTC)
No, too hot even for watermelon. It's terrible. Even lambic my go-to refreshment is unappealing...
15th-Aug-2008 04:27 pm (UTC)
Oh man, I love cream teas. Had one with A and FMIL and it was so good. SOOOOO GOOOOOD.
15th-Aug-2008 05:14 pm (UTC)
Clotted cream tastes to me like hand-whipped unsweetened whip cream (so it isn't too fluffy).

Milkmaid and I had a lovely cream tea on a cold November day in Mumbles, Wales. Yum. We decided it was just too cold for ice cream, no matter how tastey.
15th-Aug-2008 06:30 pm (UTC)
I will also say "hooray!" for the return of Food Fridays.

I have had a few cream teas, and while they were enjoyable, I felt almost guilty as the sheer decadence of the food experience. :-) Now, a cup of tea (or rather, a mug or two) and a plate of digestives, that doesn't make me feel sybaritic.

But every once in a while, you have to throw caution to the winds and bring out the jam! And, as you say, good clotted cream spoils you for pale imitations...
15th-Aug-2008 08:22 pm (UTC) - :D
I adore cream teas, in both having and hosting!

Actually, what I used to hold were closer to high teas, with scones, homemade strawberry jam, and assorted biscuits/cookies, but I would also have the sammies on thin-sliced, crustless UK breads (usually fillings like curried egg, cucumber/cream cheese, dilled chicken salad), a couple of cakes, cream sherry (maybe some tawny or ruby port) and at least two kinds of tea (what can I say, my friends were a fussy bunch!), but one mainstay was that I had to have the goodly sized dish of Devon double cream! The stuff is truly crack, in my book!

Great ... now I'm gonna have to add a jar to my shopping! *lol*
16th-Aug-2008 07:46 pm (UTC)
I am a native Brit and never had a cream tea until I was in my 20s. It surprises me that you found a stellar example in Deeside, since I had sort of decided that it must be an English thing... Perhaps it's just the central belt that doesn't have the tradition.

(That said, our church recently held a tea-and-scones event, and clotted cream was available. But it was optional and both my parents opted out.)

Having done the food meme, I thought the food choices were intended to be cosmopolitan rather than peculiar. Though I think the inclusion of nettle tea is pretty peculiar. I drink it myself, but not for the taste sensation (my husband tasted it and described it as "not horrible, but a bit nothingy").
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