Food Fight

There is a war happening in Great Britain.  Zealous supporters would fall on a sword before turning to the other side. 

What is it you ask?  Atheist vs Believer?  Conservative vs Labour?  Liverpool vs Everton?  

Nope, it’s the humble scone.

Don’t snicker too much my fellow Americans.  The US is not immune from this rabid fan behavior.  How about Ranch vs Blue Cheese on Buffalo Wings?  Or Ketchup vs Mustard on Hot Dogs? 

However, the most contentious example I can think of would be Square vs. Triangle cut pizza.  I’m currently living in St. Louis, where the ‘Square beyond Compare’ is the proud rally cry for Imo’s Pizza.  I’m slightly less militant, but Perry staunchly holds to one side.  He firmly believes that circle pizza = triangle cut pieces.  Period.  If you have a rectangle shaped pizza, fine, he will say, cut that into squares.  But if you want to defend a square cut circle pizza with him, be prepared to rebutt this: ‘If you were going to draw a pizza in Pictionary, it would be cut into triangles, not squares.’  Clearly, Pictionary is the final arbiter of such disputes.

Are you square or triangle?

Are you square or triangle?

The scone is also the target of such food fanaticism.

A scone is frequently served with tea.  There is more than one way to have your scone and tea, but the two most popular are 'Cream Tea' and 'Afternoon Tea' (sometimes called 'High Tea').  Cream Tea is simply a scone and tea while Afternoon Tea is far more substantial.  Perry and I absolutely LOVE Afternoon Tea.   What’s not to love with this very British institution?  A perfectly refined cup of soul-soothing tea served with a mini-buffet of tasty crust-less sandwiches (cucumber, coronation chicken, smoked salmon, oh my!), indulgent sweet treats (Victoria Sponge, Profiterole, Chocolate Tart, to name a few) and my personal favorite…scones that you slather with clotted cream and strawberry jam.  How you choose to slather your scone, however, is a major point of contention.

Paula & Perry, fans of afternoon tea.

Paula & Perry, fans of afternoon tea.

We had Afternoon Tea several times on our own before doing so with friends.  No one had to tell us how to dress a scone- it was clear 4-step process.

1) Cut scone in half

2) Spread clotted cream generously

3) Apply jam topping liberally

4) Cram into mouth

At our first Afternoon Tea with friends, we were informed we were DOING IT ALL WRONG. 

1) Cut scone in half

2) Spread jam

3) Apply clotted cream generously

4) Cram into mouth

Did you catch the difference?

The first version is known as the Devon way.  Call Perry and I #TeamDevonshire.  Karen and Joanne prefer the Cornwall way.  We’ll call them #TeamCornish.  No one is budging and the term heathen has been bandied about ever since.

Are you Cornish or Devon?

Are you Cornish or Devon?

I started to ponder other food wars going on out there.  Despite a few items mentioned above, the US isn’t as fussy as most places.  The French are known to be particularly finicky, but this uncompromising stance on food occurs in other places where you might not expect it.  I was once denied Naan bread while ordering room service in India.

I now know that I made the mistake of ordering a dry curry (which one escapes me) with a side of Naan bread.  I thought that if the curry looked dicey, I would just eat the bread and not starve.  But no self-respecting Indian is going to ‘let’ you make this mistake.  The lovely gentleman on the phone was extremely polite, but the conversation was like a modern day version of ‘Who’s on First.’  For my British friends, this is an American comedy classic.  

Paula:  ‘I would like to order x curry and a side of Naan bread.’

Room Service:  ‘Madam, this is not possible’

Paula:  ‘Oh, are you out of the curry?’

Room Service: ‘No.’

Paula:  ‘Oh, you are out of Naan then.’

Room Service:  ‘No.’

Paula: ‘So, you have x curry and Naan bread?’

Room Service:  ‘Yes.’

Paula:  ‘I would like x curry with Naan bread, please.’

Room Service:  ‘Not possible.’

Paula:  ‘Um, why?’

Room Service:  ‘Madam, you cannot have Naan with that curry.’

Paula:  ‘What?  Why not?’

Room Service:  ‘You cannot eat Naan with that curry.’

Paula:  ‘What if I just want it on the side.’

Room Service:  ‘No.’

Paula:  ‘I’m American.  I don’t know any better.  Just give me the bread.’

Room Service:  ‘I’m afraid not, madam.’

Paula:  ‘OK, what curry goes with Naan?’

Room Service:  ‘Wet curry.’

Paula:  ‘OK, you pick a curry that is meant to be eaten with Naan bread and send it up.  But don’t forget the Naan!’

My room service order arrived but I refused to eat the curry with the Naan.  I ate every last morsel of the bread on its own- and it did not touch that wet curry.  Because I am defiant like that.

Curry and naan bread?  It's all good.

Curry and naan bread?  It's all good.

I relayed this story to my Indian colleagues the next day.  They laughed at me.  I mean, belly-clutching-pointing-knee-slapping kind of laughing.  They are not overly demonstrative people so this really shocked me.  I asked what was so funny.

‘Paula, this is quite impossible.  You cannot eat that curry with Naan.’

Next time, I’ll order a scone.