Welcome to the first meeting of British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. Since this is the first week (and without much warning), I invite you to share, in the linky below, either a new post or the favorite British-themed post that you’ve ever published on your blog.
If you’ve been paying attention since I had this idea during Bloggiesta last weekend, you’ll know that I changed the name. I was going to call it Anglophile Friday, but Karen of BookerTalk, who lives in Wales, pointed out that “Anglophile” rather leaves out the rest of the island.
So, let’s start with a geography lesson, shall we? The United Kingdom is a nation that consists of four countries: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Great Britain, or just Britain, refers to the island that the first three of those countries share. The British Isles refers to the island of Britain, the island with Ireland and Northern Ireland, and over six thousand smaller islands. I wanted to be as broad and inclusive as possible. Plus, I kind of like the magic, romance, and adventure that the term “British Isles” imparts.
And, we’ll add to that a bit of an etiquette lesson. People in Wales and Scotland get annoyed when you call them English. British is okay. It’s similar to the Canadian frustration at being lumped in with the US. Or, New Zealanders who hate being mistaken for Australians. Or, an Oklahoman who doesn’t want to be called a Texan just because he’s wearing a cowboy hat.
So, British Isles Friday it is. For my first post, I was going to do a book review but I went to a fun event this week that seemed an even better topic, so I’ll save the book review for next week.
The Missouri Botanical Garden offered a class this spring called The Unofficial Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea. The course proved so popular that they added on at least two extra sessions to accommodate the wait list. Our teacher was Jane Muscroft who runs the catering business Queen’s Cuisine here in St. Louis (but she’s originally from Leicestershire, England).
She brought in all the fancy new cookbooks related to the show. They are gorgeous, but Jane was unimpressed by the recipes. Instead, she used as inspiration a 1911 edition of Mrs. Beeton’s cookbook.
We started with finger sandwiches. These aren’t meant to be meals, so the trickiest part to making these in America is to buy bread thin enough that it doesn’t overwhelm the dainty filling. She used a thin-sliced Pepperidge Farm for these sandwiches.
My favorite dish was this scone with clotted cream and jam. Clotted cream takes two days to make, so we just saw the last step. It can also be purchased at the international grocery.
The classroom set-up was ideal for a cooking demonstration. We could see Jane’s face while she talked to us, or look up at the mirror to see what her hands were doing.
Here, she was spreading the icing that, along with lemon curd, was sandwiched between two layers of sponge cake. This is a common tea item called “Victoria Sandwich.”
In one episode of Downton Abbey, Mrs. Patmore was even more irascible than normal. She was asked to make Apple Charlotte at a time when she was trying to hide problems with her eyesight and couldn’t read a recipe. Jane made tiny one-serving versions of Apple Charlotte, an apple filling in a bread crust, using a mini-muffin tin.
Have you ever had an English tea? Were these the kinds of items that were served?
I’m also linking this post to Weekend Cooking where Beth Fish Reads hosts a weekly blog hop of food posts and Saturday Snapshot hosted by West Metro Mommy because I was rather pleased with how well my little camera did in taking photos of our class.
Don’t forget to link up your British-themed posts below and join us each week for British Isles Friday.