What’s teatime without scones and Devon clotted cream? Blah. Which explains why there is a growing market for these tasty treats. In fact, the popularity of Devon Clotted Cream is resulting in a bunch of “wannabes” out there — clotted creams that are made elsewhere and use the name. There is now a concerted effort to get only those clotted creams made in Devon County, UK, labeled as “Devon Clotted Cream.” So I have to ask, “Will the Real Devon Clotted Cream Please Stand Up?”
Maybe it’s my college degree in English Lit and Philosophy, but using the correct term is very important to me. Misnomers confuse and, worse, sully the reputation of the genuine articles, whether you’re calling everything under the sun that you steep in hot water by the term “tea,” or every drinkable white liquid (even the kind made from soy) by the term “milk,” etcetera, etcetera, etcetera (as Yul Brynner portraying the King of Siam would declare). This is very true of Devon Clotted Cream.
The folks in Devon are very particular about anything bearing the name “Devon.” They also know that their clotted cream is different from the kind made in Cornwall, the other UK county where this dairy delicacy originated. Thus, their concern when the name “Devon Clotted Cream” is applied to products not made in Devon County and which may not be up to the high standards of the folks living there.
So, what is the real Devon clotted cream? First, it’s made in Devon County in the UK, obviously. More than that, it is made to the standards of area producers. For one thing, they use exclusively Jersey & Guernsey cream. Those small, brown, downright pretty Devon Jersey Cows are acknowledged around the world as producing milk with a high butterfat content. Small wonder that those traditional Devon dairy products are likewise renowned, having a luxurious richness seldom found elsewhere.
Along with clotted cream, the folks in Devon (and one farm owner in particular) are trying to get their particular style of teatime declared something “protected” in the European Union. They call it the “Devonshire Cream Tea.” (For the British, the term “tea” can refer to both the beverage and the break time they take to indulge it. Confusing.)
I can sort of see the worth of this struggle. If tearooms are serving teas that vary from the standard scones-clotted-cream-jam-tea menu but still call it a “Devonshire Cream Tea,” the public will lose all sense of what that term should mean. They already think that a bunch of dried herbs, flowers, and fruits thrown into boiling water and steeped a few minutes are “tea.” Maybe the owners of tea (Camellia Sinensis) plantations should follow Devon’s example.
As for clotted cream, slapping the name “Devon” on some not made in Devon County poses a risk to those producers. If the quality isn’t as good, the name’s reputation can suffer. I bought a small jar of such a clotted cream, labeled “Devon” but actually made elsewhere. Fortunately, the taste was delectable. Unfortunately, not having access to real Devon Clotted Cream and not having had the real thing for many years now, I don’t know how this one compared. But the fact that it didn’t, as California Valley girls say, “totally blow” is a good sign.
Time to go steep a pot of black tea, bake some scones, and pop open a jar of clotted cream, real or not. Hope you’ll join me!
Don’t forget to stop by A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!