Please, Let Me Tell You…

…all about these things.

Let’s talk food.

I gave a brief explanation about some of the food I’ve experienced since being here in my post A World With(out) Burritos.  But there are other things I’ve experienced/noticed since being here, as well.

First off I’ve noticed that dinner is not referred to as dinner, or even supper.  It is referred to as “Tea.”  At least this is what Carol and Graham call it, and now I’ve fallen into this habit.  They also eat it extremely late, usually at 7 or 8 or even 9 at night.  Never at 5 or 6, as I’m accustom to.  At first I thought Graham was simply mad, because we’d eat lunch at noon and eat tea at 8.  I was usually dying by then, until I realized that you’re actually supposed to have afternoon tea in between the two, typically at 4.  All of a sudden things made sense.  Graham is a super human who rushes around the smallholding often putting off his own food traditions for the sake of getting things done.  I eventually just started taking it upon myself to have afternoon tea before what is actually called “high tea.”  It was really for his benefit that I did this.  I might rip someone’s head off otherwise, especially with all the physical activity.  So now I break about 3 or 4 and have oatcakes with apple sliced on top.  Graham will actually eat these when I offer them, I think it’s just that he doesn’t think about it.

And so that leads me onto oatcakes.  I don’t have a picture, unfortunately, but I yoinked one from here.  There’s also a recipe there if you’re curious.  But they are a simple, almost biscuit-like thing made from rolled oats, flour, and the like.  Really simple and perfect for cheese, or as I like, a slice of apple.

But what is traditional for afternoon tea, as I’m sure you’ve heard, is biscuits.  They seem to go together in our head, “tea and biscuits.”  But they’re not the traditional American style biscuits- a buttery roll made from flour and a few other basic ingredients.

Instead English “biscuits” are actually cookies.  But not soft chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies.  But harder, like the above oatcake, but sweeter.  The first biscuit I had were chocolate gingers, a very hard ginger cookie covered in chocolate.

But they can be short-cake cookies (also hard dry cookies) or any others that fall into a similar category.

This would be what you might see set out on a plate for your enjoyment.

I’ve also noticed something different that has gotten mis-translated in America.  Or suffered an evolution.  However you want to phrase it.  It is the ever so popular scone.  In America they are those fantastic blueberry, cranberry orange, ginger, cinnamon, etc, triangle shaped breads that are a little dry, but not too dry, typically dense and usually found in coffee shops.

However, here in the UK, they are round, and not quite so dense and dry.  In fact, if you look closely, they might look a little like an American biscuit, and served with butter and a jam.  And they usually have some sort of candied fruit in them, which tastes quite different than a scone you’d find in the States.

It must have been the scurvy. Welcome to the motherland.

Something else that I’ve been enjoying is the cappuccino.  Those of you may know that I have a bit of obsession with coffee.  I like trying new coffees, new ways of making coffee, new coffee shops.  I have a taste for it and I know what I like.  When I was in Denver I would love going to a place called St. Mark’s because they would never mess up my beloved cappuccino.  The foam was always thick and dense  and delicious and there was always the correct amount milk to foam ratio.

Well, here I have yet to have a bad one.  I’m not kidding.  I would hardly trust anywhere else to make me a cappuccino, and not even the ever popular Starbucks.  But here, you can safely trust the skills of any barista.  Not only that, they put a whole new spin on the thing.  They put what I believe is cocoa powder on top.  It may be mixed with something else, but the base is definitely a cocoa powder.  At first I thought this was just the place I went to.  But no, they do it everywhere.  And it is glorious.

Hey, come on America.  What are you doing over there?

And while we are on the subject of coffee, let me tell you about another adventure I had recently.  My love of coffee has definitely spilled over into my love of liquors, be it Kahlua, Bailey’s, or another knock-off.  I’m sorry to say that I love it. All of it.  So when Graham made a mention of making us Irish coffee, I insisted that it happen.  And happen every night.

He made it with french pressed coffee, Irish whiskey, brown sugar and double cream (which is heavy cream in the states.)  He said he had never made it before, but I can vouch  it was delicious.  I even looked up a recipe online to verify that is was correct.  And it was, if you would like to know.  But I’m sad to say we’ve only done it once instead of every night like I requested.  😉

If you’d like to try your hand at it, here’s a link.

Another thing I’ve noticed about these Scots is their love of bubbly candy.  I mean it’s everywhere.  I thought to myself, “how strange,” until my friend Katie Eagleslayer (yes that’s a nickname) bought some while she was over here on our church’s mission trip.  The package was sitting open on her desk and so I could hardly turn down her coaxing to try some.  So I did.

And now I love them.

They are kind of a funny little thing.  Almost like a candy hardened during carbonation and dipped in chocolate.  This was a chocolate mint candy.  And it is delicious.

I also accidently sat on one once and got it all over my butt only to get up and walk away from a circle of guys.

Keep it classy.

And something that actually isn’t popular over here, but is in Colorado, is stinging nettle.  It’s all the rage in the natural health community, and for

good reason.  It’s chalked full of nutrients and is said to be good for your brain, your blood, your uterus (if you happen to have one), your everything, really.  If you like, you can go here for more information.  Or just type “Stinging Nettle Benefits” into your browser.  You’ll find it all over the web.  I personally take it in tincture form.

Nettle is everywhere here, but no one seems to know how good it is for you.  Graham, before I told him, said that if he could make a profit off of it he’d be a millionaire.  When I told him what nettle was good for we had quite the discussion.  He pranced outside accompanied with gloves, scissors, and a bowl.  He came back in and we attempted to recreate something he apparently had at a restaurant recently.  Nettle Leaf Chips.

Surely the nettle chips he had were deep-fried, but we just put a little olive oil in a pan and fried them that way.  They wilted down and first were slightly flimsy.  As soon as they cooled, though, they were exactly like chips.  Nice and crisp, with a slightly buttery taste.  I’d definitely recommend them, especially considering the fantastic health benefits.

You might be wondering about the “stinging” part of nettle.  Don’t worry, once they are exposed to any form of heat their little needles disappear and they are completely safe to eat.

Unlike if you find them in the wild.  In which case if you touch them they immediately start burning and puffing up like a miniature bee sting.  You might not be able to see it here, but the slight red and bumpy look along the right side of my arm had just touched nettle while I was trimming under the electric fence.  Ouch, is all I can say about that.  But nearly impossible not to bump at some point, they really are everywhere.

I can understand why people might think you’re mad for eating them.  They don’t exactly seem like a likely suspect for massive health benefits.

But they are.


One thought on “Please, Let Me Tell You…

  1. I love it! Those nettles are so beautiful. I am growing some in a bucket, but I don’t think they like it as much as if they were allowed to be out in the wild, stinging taking over as they please. 😉
    I’m definitely going to try nettle chips when I find some in abundance-that is so fantastic!
    I bet you could make a wonderful fresh plant tincture over there, if you feel so inclined.

    When I was in London years ago, there was SO much bubbly candy there, too. I also loved it.

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