|the Tunnock Teacake mystery!|
I am not sure if the Tunnock Teacake can be described as a Scottish delicacy or not. There are probably arguments for and against. It has been made in Scotland since 1890 and it is not, contrary to its name, a traditional "teacake" - typically a spiced and fruited flat bun served at High Tea. A Tunnock Teacake consists of a crisp round biscuit, topped with a small dome of sweet vanilla marshmallow and is entirely covered with milk chocolate. (The marshmallow has the texture of very creamy whisked egg white, rather than the stuff that Americans toast at campsites.) But I have to say that the whole thing looks a bit like a chocolate covered breast implant.
I first experienced the Tunnock Teacake on a trip to Scotland, aged eight, to stay with my mother's Greenock relatives. The Scots have something of a reputation for their collective sweet teeth. However, as children, my brother and I were denied sugary cakes and biscuits, largely I think because my mother just forgot. Well I say forgot. She just didn't buy them and rarely made them. And she would say herself it was because she was born just before the last war and was brought up during rationing; that you don't miss what you don't have. In some respects she was right. I don't have a sweet tooth and have never missed the absence of sugar in my life. But on being deluged with a cornucopia of confectionary from a load of beaming relatives, it really would have been rude not to accept their sweet largesse.
My brother and I were overwhelmed with sweet treats; we given toffee, tablet, honeycomb and sticks of rock, by the bag load. Sweets to chew, suck or crunch on. We were still eating our bounty several weeks later. To be honest there was a whole load of things I didn't recognise, and still don't. But the three things that stick out in my memory were Snowballs (coconut hell), Tunnock Teacakes (marshmallow purgatory) and Tunnock Wafers (sheer heaven). I am still partial to the odd Tunnock Wafer, many layers of thin wafer held together by toffee and chocolate. But I'm afraid the Teacake failed to delight me, although at a pinch, I would scrape off the marshmallow and eat the biscuit.
So returning to the present day, there are these distinctive yellow and red boxes of the famous Tunnock Teacake; the cakes themselves are individually wrapped in their distinctive silver and red foil. The boxes have been deliberately placed under several trees. Each box is missing one teacake.
OK, so it's not Murder She Wrote but you see why I think it is a rather intriguing mystery? Don't you? Are you not a little bit curious?
It is a mystery that I reluctantly accept that I will never solve. But what could it be?
Could it be some kind of fairytale Quality Management programme gone wrong?
A frustrated Scot, looking for a taste of home, who discovers that the Teacake, like a fine wine, does not travel? (Surely not!)
It is a tear in the universe? An indication of a portal to a world beyond?
Is it some kind of offering to a sweet toothed sprite, guardian of the Plane trees? Are their dryads on Leighton Road?
I am feeling distinctly frustrated by the knowledge that I will probably never know, although if anyone has any ideas, please do tell!
|the crime scene - recreated!|
So I decided to recreate the scene in my back garden, in order that you could get a sense of the drama of it all. Since I had bought a box of the Teacakes, I thought that in the interest of accuracy, I really should taste one. It turns out, despite the distance of nearly 40 years, I still don't like marshmallow! But the biscuit and chocolate was very nice!