Monday, November 27, 2006

Local customs of my country: England

Afternoon tea is my favourite English custom. Tea is a meal eaten at 4pm. It consists of bread and butter or sandwiches, cake and of course tea. We drink tea either with milk, or without. Some varieties of tea might be served with lemon. And those that have a sweet tooth can add sugar.

Cucumber sandwiches -- in thin bread with the crusts cut off, of course -- might be served. And strawberries and cream should feature in season.

There are many different sorts of cake -- there is rich, dense fruitcake full of raisins, currants and cherries; there might be plain Madeira cake; or there might be a Victoria sponge, which is two feather light sponge cakes with jam in between them. If you get there early, there might be some meringues left -- these are best eaten in pairs held together by whipped cream.

In winter, crumpets are served. These are stout discs of… of… no-one really knows what a crumpet is made of. But they taste jolly good and wholesome toasted, buttered and sprinkled with salt. Hot buttered toast is another teatime treat -- it might be spread with jam or with Gent's Relish -- a sort of anchovy paste.

A cream tea has scones, jam and whipped cream. Scones are small bread-like cakes, often with a few bits of fruit in them. Here is one of our best-known celebrity cooks, Delia Smith, describing how to make scones.

Whether it's outside on the lawn or in front of a crackling hearth, teatime is an English treat not to be missed!


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8:36 AM  
Blogger Shazee said...

Found this blog through 3BT. What a great concept! Wish I could be a part of it. Sadly there's already a blogger from Malaysia

11:28 AM  
Blogger Jock said...

The English afternoon tea is very famous all over the world.
I thought it was eaten at 5pm! Is this done every single day?

11:35 AM  
Blogger Jock said...

Shazee, you can be very participative by comments!! Would be a great pleasure to all of us!

11:36 AM  
Blogger Clare said...

Jock -- Well some people have it at 5pm -- but I get hungry and want it at 4pm. After 6pm it becomes 'high tea' which includes cooked things.

No, it's not really an every day thing because most of us have to work. However, we often make a round of teas at 4pm; and if there's cake we might eat it at that time.

We always use to have tea after school when we were little.

Hi Shazee! Glad to see a 3BT person.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Rupert said...

I love your blog and have enjoyed your previous posts on this blog, but I must be honest and say that I am a little disappointed by this post. I am English, however having not lived in England for a couple of years, I found your post a little difficult to read, as it is written in a very GB English style and mentions many words that a foreigner probably will not know...such as currants...Gent's relish, (of which I have never heard of), crusts, crumpets, crackling hearth, Madeira cake, sweet tooth etc. And finally, I really would argue that this is not a typical English custom anymore because we all work. And those who do take afternoon tea are probably quite middle class and of an older genreation. It is something that foreigners like to believe about the English and then they pay a very high price ‘afternoon tea’ for when they visit...

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Eyebee said...

My mother always cooked our mail meal at lunchtime, and both my father and I used to rush home to eat it, and in the evening around 5, we would have tea.

My mother would usually make something on bread, it might just be some jam, or some cheese spread, during the week but at the weekend we would often have salmon and cucumber sandwiches.

Sometimes we'd have something hot like scrambled eggs on toast, or perhaps those crumpets that you mention.

I have actually found crumpets in the US - if you have a Publix supermarket near you, they're in with the cheese in the chiller, not with the rest of the bread.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Deep Sea said...

Hi Clare, good to read your post here as well (after my almost daily trip to 3BT!). And, I love scones..and just wanted to mention this, after reading your post!

@Rupert, Hi, I think that when we talk of anything as generic as the customs of a country, its difficult and in fact, incorrect, to presume that the whole country does it! E.g. sitting down for tea, early in the evening! But nevertheless, these are customs (often having modified with the times)one associates with a particular place.


7:04 PM  
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2:04 PM  

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