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A Proper Scone: An English Encounter

“Those look great! I love fluffy biscuits!” I exclaimed as Betty unveiled her afternoon baking project. However, when I scuttled to the kitchen to get plates, I glimpsed a fleeting puzzled look cross her face.

The English educating everyone on how to properly eat a scone!

I grabbed the final items for the Bilingual Book Club meeting: tea, wine glasses, and my book when I heard Mike, who had just entered, exclaim, “Yes, some proper scones!” He also was commenting on Betty’s contribution to our gathering.

I knew it was him because of his English accent. I’m American; we speak the same language, almost.

The conversation between Mike and Betty continued:

“And we have clotted cream! Couldn’t buy it in this country (Spain), so I learned how to make it!”

“You are an angel straight from heaven!” sighed Mike, bliss radiating from his smile. “You got the jam, correct?”

She motioned with a nod and a smile which said: “What do you take me for?!”

Betty must have made some sort of English comfort food. Which, to me, was questionable…. how comforting could “clotted” cream be? Sounds like something that went bad. I kept the thought to myself.

I’ve been living in Spain now for a couple of years and I expect to learn new things daily. However, I realized now that there are those with whom I share a language and who also live in Spain that are equally educating: the English!

As Betty passed the “scones” around (which look like American biscuits…) for all to try, Mike went into lecturer mode and explained to all non English or New Zealand persons, such as us Spaniards, Americans, Argentinians, Dutch and French, exactly how to apply the clotted cream and the jam. Jam goes on first and then the cream.

The lecture also included what NOT to do and that the consequence of doing such an act has apparently started civil wars. Never put the clotted cream on first and then the jam! Or was it the other way around?

I sat next to Amparo from Valencia and Susana from Argentina. When the scones came to me, I sneakily observed Amparo and Susana to imitate their actions: the jam first or the cream first? I didn’t want problems! They were fidgeting with their napkins, obviously waiting for me to make the first move.

“You, guys!” I whispered, “which goes first? The jam or the cream?!”

“I don’t remember, you’re the who speaks English!” whispered Amparo back to me as if hers was a viable excuse. I rolled my eyes. Fortunately, as the tension built, a voice rose above the heated whispers:

“So, Mike remind us again”, said Sara, the always cool, calm Dutch, “which goes on first? We don’t want to start another civil war!”



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