Devon! Cornwall! Britain’s baking partisans! The time has come to take up arms (teaspoon, butter knife), in order to defend one of these islands’ most sacred rites, the cream tea. Yes, How to Eat – the Word of Mouth blog dictatorially defining the best way to eat the nation’s favourite dishes – is, this month, considering best clotted cream, the correct jam and the vapid nostalgia of vintage crockery. Given that we can’t even agree on how to pronounce its main component (it is scone-rhymes-with-cone, of course), this one could go the distance. No sleep ’til Truro.
Historically, this Scottish interloper played no part in the cream tea. Devonians claim they were eating cream and jam with bread back in the 11th century, while the Cornish traditionally ate theirs on a “split”. However, militantly harking back to either is as pointless as trying to un-invent electricity. The scone (or, if you want to get all Hyacinth Bucket about it, skon), is where we’re at. Deal with it. Unless someone tries to serve you one full of currants, sultanas or even, God forbid, glace cherries. In which case, feel free to unleash the hounds of fury*. A cream tea scone should be plain – not even glazed, much less dusted with icing sugar.
* If you are British, unleashing the hounds of fury will involve a considerable amount of sighing, muttering and then, at the till, when asked how everything was, a cheery: “Oh, it was lovely, thank you.” That is how we roll … awkwardly.