August 19th 2011

Picture by Angus Begg
By Mike Knutton There's always been much more than the River Tamar separating Devon and Cornwall, the two English counties jutting out into the Atlantic in the extreme southwest of the country. Traditionally remote from the rest of Britain, they bounced their prejudices off each other and promoted their perceived superiority in areas of human endeavour as diverse as rugby, Celtic credentials, pasties...and now, cream teas. The scone war has been bubbling beneath the surface, but with a gentlemanly stand-off, for decades. Now, however, the Devonians have fired a provocative broadside by launching a campaign to have the name 'Devon cream tea' protected---a bit like wine---within the European Union under what are known as the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) rules. Never slow to respond to forays from 'up country' the Cornish, who already have PDO status for their clotted cream and pilchards (mature sardines) and will brook no challenge to the Cornish pasty, have ridiculed the Devonians for what they claim to be very basic and crucial error in the make-up of the Devon cream tea. All cream teas worthy of the name are a combination of scones, clotted cream, and strawberry jam. According to the Cornish, a cream tea consists of a sliced scone with each half spread with jam and then topped with a 'gurt dollop' of clotted cream. Devonians, however, part company after the split scone, and insist that the cream should go on the scone before the jam. On-line voting gave Cornwall 57.4% for jam first and clotted cream on top with Devon trailing with 42.6%. An inquiry at the Ritz Hotel in London supported the Cornish case. Executive general manager (no less) David Collas confirmed that 'we at The Ritz, London, would prefer to encourage the 'jam then cream' option as this is the traditional method of preparing scones.' Now, you may think this is all a storm in a cream tea cup, and indeed after it all passes the gullet it matters little, but so much is at stake that reams and reams of fiery correspondence have been passing through the ether. Ex-pats and tourists wax lyrical as they recall their cream tea experiences in the two counties, but here at The Wayfarers, we decline to take sides. All we would say is join us on our Cornish and Devon walks - or our Pentillie Castle Walk which straddles both counties! - and make up your own mind. Or indeed, join us on any of our walking vacations in the UK as each and every one includes a cream tea.

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