Happy 4th of July! I know most of you probably aren’t reading blogs today…although the weather here at Sea Colony has left me stuck inside, but I couldn’t pass on the irony of posting my last U.K. blog on this holiday. If you have time today, curl up with a cup of tea and enjoy this post; if not, feel free to read it when your mind isn’t set on hot dogs and fireworks.
So, full disclosure, the title of this post is a bit of a lie. Unless this is your first time reading my blog, you know by now that my belly was treated pretty well in the U.K., but this title should give you an idea of just how darn warm it was while I was over there. My great-aunt had sent me an e-mail about three days before we left saying that it was really cold and raining every day, but lo and behold, I brought Philly summers with me when I landed. Except for one rainy morning, it was sunny, warm, and just a tad humid, which meant that I spent a shockingly large portion of my trip outside. I also spent a lot of time sweating in the warmer clothes I brought in anticipation of miserable weather, but you probably don’t want to hear about that when I’m about to talk about food.
When I was in London, my time outside was split between walking around huge parks like Primrose Hill and finding time to sit down and inhale vanilla soft-serve. This smooth ice-cream was almost always presented with a Cadbury chocolate flake in it, too. I don’t know why we don’t do the flake here in the U.S., but U.K. people clearly understand soft-serve better than we do. Does anything sound better to you than some cool ice cream garnished with a creamy chocolate flake and served in a chocolate-dipped cone? Personally, that sounds like Heaven to me.
Outside of London, I spent my days exploring Beaconsfield and the nearby towns, either on my own or with my family. I got to see rowing competitions, castles, and a bunch of other things that I don’t normally come across in Philly. The public footpaths were especially great for the warm days because they were usually just shady enough to protect me from the powerful sun while also being a lot of fun to explore.
It felt like there were hundreds of paths, each with its own personality. One would take me right out to the train station, while another would allow me to go deeper into the woods and inhale the scent of deep green land before I came across horses and other livestock grazing in the area. For a girl who spends most of her time surrounded by pavement and high-rises, it was a bit of a welcome break….although I probably could have done without the manure that inevitably permeated the air.
The one time that I was almost always outside was breakfast time. I’ve spoken a bit about the lunches and dinners we had in Beaconsfield in my first U.K. post, but I skipped over breakfast a bit. I’m really not much of a breakfast person; however, my great-aunt was having none of that, so I ended up nibbling on things each morning.
The most important part of my breakfast was the tea. After realizing how much stronger I preferred my tea to hers, Aunt Irene gave me leave to just take my own teapot and fill it up the way I wanted to. Since my first few breakfasts involved tea decorated sparsely with tea leaves, I appreciated this quite a bit.
I would quickly put my tea together by scooping a hefty spoonful of loose-leaf tea right out of its little canister into the teapot, and then let it steep for a few minutes after pouring the scalding water into my individual cup. Since I don’t enjoy burning my tongue first thing in the morning, I let the tea sit for a while as I put together the rest of my meal.
Normally, my breakfast consisted of a medium-sharp cheddar cheese, a crumbly blue cheese, and a selection of butters and homemade jams paired with croissants. Since I think cheesemongers have the best job in the world and can’t imagine anything better in life than making mine about cheese, I tended to go for the cheese options over the others. I still tried a little bit of everything on the table though. In between just slicing off hunks of cheese and eating them on their own, I would slowly graze on a buttery croissant. I particularly enjoyed the homemade jams on them, which were made with berries and other produce from Aunt Irene’s allotment. With just a little bit of butter and jam, the croissants were perfect for a light, sweet morning treat.
If I wasn’t too hungry, I chose some of the fresh fruit lying around the home. As a Persian girl, I grew up surrounded by fruit. My dad, and most of the other Persians I know, eat fruit all day long. It’s like the Persian tea culture, unless you eat it before dinner, after dinner, and a handful of other times throughout the day, you’re not really Persian. Frequently, my dad will request fruit before we go out for a meal and if I tell him that he should just wait until we leave, he always says “fruit isn’t food; it doesn’t fill you up.” I’m not sure I totally believe that, but either way, if I wasn’t hungry for much breakfast, fruit was a great thing to eat to keep from filling myself up.
I don’t think I’ll ever be much of a breakfast girl, but if I was, I’d like it more this way than the traditional American way. I don’t want a super heavy breakfast; I just want to sip on some strong black tea and nibble on some fresh food while I wait for a bigger, more exciting lunch. I’m still half-asleep in the mornings, so the last thing I want to do is be smacked in the face with scents of sausage and bacon before choking down some scrambled eggs. My motto for the morning is ‘the simpler, the better,’ and I think my mornings in Beaconsfield were a perfect way to practice it.