Readers, I’m on a quest. A quest like no other. It’s a quest for the Silver Teapot of Glory.
Mr M is a keen cricketer and for the past 5 or 6 years on Saturdays throughout the summer, he makes his merry way from our home London to a little village in the leafy environs of Henley on Thames. As club captain he’s always striving for ways to get both players and families more involved in the club and the past few years have seen the support swell. We have regular BBQs, Ladies’ Days with bunting and fizz, and even the occasional spot of camping at a nearby pub. Sometimes we even see a decent game of cricket…
I don’t know if you’re a cricket fan but for the non-aficionados out there, it’s a peculiar game made all the better for the fact they stop half way for a rather civilised tea. Village cricket teas can take many forms, from the ‘here’s 4 unwrapped loaves of bread, a tub of marg and some tired looking spam; build your own sandwich’ (boo hiss) to the incredible spread with triangular sandwiches with their crusts cut off, cakes oozing with cream and wobbly-crusted jam tarts. The sort of heaving table of delectable goodies that look like they might teach Mary Berry a thing or two. At the risk of a rather loud tut from my husband, I will tell you that their club always used to be firmly in the mediocre camp. Sorry, husband, it’s true. Though, year on year, there were notable exceptions. Credit must go to village stalwarts, the Wickens family, who create the best lemon drizzle cake I’ve tasted (nb, I’ve never tried Anna’s). They have lived in the village for generations and can always be relied on to put on a good show. When it’s their turn to do tea, people cheer. Relative newcomers, The Grays, put on an epic spread with chunky sarnies with delicious fillings and plenty of buns and other yummy things. Recently the Indian contingent have started to charge forward with samosas, bahjiis and the like, gracing the green for the very first time.
Despite such culinary progress several families haven’t yet risen to the challenge, embarrassingly ours included, so at the end of last season, my husband made a purchase. A purchase that set the cat amongst the pigeons.
Behold. The Silver Teapot of Glory.
At the end of the season it will be awarded to the family who create the best cricket tea. When I heard this, my competitive flame began to flicker. 2012, the year of the Jubilee, the Olympics and surely a Team Manning S-T-O-G win? Surely, you might think, as wife of the Club Captain, the prize is in the bag? Sadly not. Mr M is nothing if not fair. He’s even assured me I can’t sleep my way to the top. I need to win this fair and square, and that, lovely AOWers, is where you come in.
You see, I need your help. I need this teapot in my life, if only for a season. I need to create the most epic of picnics. A spread that even the most hardened of cricketers would bow down to, sobbing on their knees at the sight of the glorious creations before them. Normally I’d lean towards my picnic staple. Pork. Roast pork in sarnies, cocktail sausages in mustard and honey, homemade scotch eggs, gala pie and sausage rolls. But alas, the pig has no place here. Due to the dietary requirements of the teams and their fans it tends to be best to stay away from too much pork. I need choices that are vegetarian, halal, appeal to both spicy and the more bland of palates but then also meat to feed the more ruddy of men. So, ladies and gentlemen, I need you to reach into the very centre of your picnicking beings and share with me your very best recipes or ideas. I need inspiration for sandwiches, for rolls or for wraps. I need cakes, buns, scones – the more failsafe the better, I bake like a child. I need anything that is quirky but awesome. Even accompaniments that are easy to assemble and can be eaten with one hand. Think ‘Wow and then scoffed’. There is no place for cutlery, these men have no time.
Help me, good people, there’s eternal glory and a mention in my winner’s acceptance speech for you. Let’s bring the Silver Teapot of Glory home.