Scones can’t be that hard. I mean, they can’t be that hard to make. Screw them up and they can most certainly be that hard. Hockey-puck hard. Projectile-weapon hard. Have-the-dentist-on-speed-dial-if-you-do-something-stupid-like-try-to-eat-one-of-these hard.
And yet here I am, committed to baking hundreds of the hopefully edible things for my daughter’s school. I blame England.
Anya’s school does an amazing annual event, International Day. It celebrates the school’s diverse student body by inviting families to set up displays about their country of origin or heritage. If you’ve ever wondered about the national dress of Uruguay or the major export products of Turks and Caicos, this is your day.
In addition to photos and factoids, there’s food. So much glorious food. There’s the Indian family whose curry is so good I honestly assumed they own a restaurant. The Haitian food table I hit about three times last year. The Argentinian sweets, the Polish pierogis, the Thai rice dessert…it’s one of those days where you have to strategize your eating to maximize intake.
And this year for the first time, the Petersens are setting up a stall. We’ll be there representing the country where my wife and child are from, and where I spent more than a decade before coming home to Fort Lauderdale. This year, the Petersens are representing England.
In a way, this is a good thing. If we were rocking up at International Day expected to represent the culinary traditions of, say, France or Italy, I’d really be feeling the pressure. Flying the flag for English cuisine means, shall we say, lessened expectations. I mean, these are people who serve pork and beer at roughly the same temperature; I don’t need to earn a Michelin star between now and then. I thought of not doing food at all and trying to give everybody an authentically cultural experience, but apparently offering everyone five to seven beers and then starting a brawl over soccer isn’t the done thing at elementary school events.
So instead, I’m keeping it simple. I’m going to buy a box of Yorkshire Tea from the British shelf at Publix, and I’m going to make England’s favo(u)rite cakey bread thing. I shall win over the people of my daughter’s school with the humble scone.
As I write this, the big day’s a week away and preparation is going roughly as good as could be expected. By which I mean, nobody has yet been maimed by rocklike baked goods. I’m trying to bake and freeze enough for the big day, and I just might pull it off.
And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll do what any authentic, self-respecting English person would do. I’ll ignore my own food and go have a curry.