Monday, 29 August 2016

Regional Differences

B.A. and I were watching the first episode of the new season of "The Great British Bake Off." The show is a national obsession, so it is not unusual viewing for men. In this episode the contestants were asked to make Jaffa cakes, a very British cookie. It's more of a flat cupcake than a cookie, though, and it's topped with orange jelly and a covering of thin chocolate.

Naturally the judges Paul--a leonine 49 year old Liverpudlian --and Mary--a patrician 81 year old from Bath--appear to wait out the challenge by eating perfectly executed Jaffa cakes of their own. I was paying them only half of my attention, so I was barely aware of Paul dunking one in his tea. 

"Ecccccccch," said B.A. in disgust and I looked up just as Mary said, "We don't do that in the South." This confused me. The South? Like, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee? But Mary is as English as my china pattern. She must have meant not-Lancashire. 

"What, did he double-dip?" I said brightly. 

"No, he just dipped it in his tea," said B.A.  

"It's wrong to dunk cookies in your tea?" 

"It's just Not Done."

"But in Canada everyone dunks their cookies in their tea." Or glasses of milk, I might have added, although come to think of it, I only did that because I saw it in ads. I don't actually like mushy cookies, or crumbs in my milk, or a wet sludge at the bottom of my tea cup. 

"I guess it's not just the South, then; it's Edinburgh, too," I concluded, but I could tell from B.A.'s unusually steely demeanor that he thinks it ought Not to be Done anywhere. 

"You could get away with it if you were an eccentric aristocrat," said B.A.--or something like that--which was a dead giveaway that cookie-dunking is not about region but about The Taxonomy That Must Not Be Named.  Meanwhile, I suppose that if you don't have any teeth--having had them all pulled out to save yourself the expenses of future dentistry--cookie-dunking makes complete sense.

However, Paul quite obviously has a tremendous set of choppers and, anyway, dunking a Jaffa cake must be ruinous to the chocolate. I suspect he did it to tease Mary and to create a minor scandal. 

Update: I must check with B.A. if he was talking about all cookies or Jaffa Cakes, which aren't really  cookies, at least for tax purposes and, of course, Cake Week on TGBB.


  1. South Australians eat these things called 'floaters' which is basically just a meat pie sitting in a bowl of pea soup.

  2. Whoa. On the one hand that sounds bizarre. On the other hand, that sounds delicious!

  3. My uncle served them at his 40th birthday party - pie floaters. I find them gross but my parents think they are great.

    I'm guessing BA would not approve of a Tim Tam Slam then?
    You bite the top right corner and bottom left corner of your Tim tam, then using it like a straw you suck your coffee or tea through it. The goal is to do it without the Tim tam disintegrating in your hands.

    Aussie Girl in NZ

    1. The Tim Tam Slam is the best.

    2. No way! Tim Tams (like all other biscuits) are waaay better eaten normally (says a west-Aussie)
      Jaffas here are orange flavoured chocolate balls, with a bright orange shell. I was surprised to find that in England a Jaffa is a 'cake' or something else that no one can figure out. Yummy though.

    3. Good heavens. I take it a Tim Tam is square? Well, whatever shape it is, I am sure B.A. (and Mary Berry) would NOT approve.

      Anything that flat cannot be a cake. *I* think a British Jaffa cake is a biscuit. If a marshmallow puff (like a Tunnock's tea cake) is a biscuit... Oh, wait. They call it a cake. Hmm. I think they're just calling some biscuits cakes to get out of some tax or other. There was a tremendous hue and cry when George Osborne, the then-Chancellor of the Exchequer, threatened to tax hot meat pies on the grounds that they were "hot takeaway food". Well, one must admit they are, but they are the national snack food, so the intellect was overcome by the national will, as often happens.