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why Britain is a barrel of biscuits

  • places to visit
June 30, 2015

Britain is a country full of variety, just like a biscuit barrel, with everything from rugged coastlines and golden beaches to rolling hills and skyscraping mountains. I know, you think I’m crazy so let me explain my analogy further…

So you may have read the title of my latest blog and thought “what is this about” and how can anybody compare Britain to a Barrel of Biscuits? Well it’s simple really, Britain as a collection of nations has such a wide breadth of landscapes, cultures and characteristics to offer.

In this post I’m going to try and explain my logic a bit further so you can really understand why the likes of Devon can be comparable to the classic Custard Cream and how Cornwall can be loosely tied back to the family favourite Jammie Dodger. To help bring a sense of reason to the article I will start “up north”, from England’s largest National Park, The Lake District and progress my journey South, rummaging deep into the biscuit barrel to finally reach The Isle of Wight.

region: the Lake District – biscuit: shortbread

My journey begins in The Lake District, which is one of the most amazing parts of the United Kingdom. 16.4 million visitors a year travel from all corners of the globe to experience the unique natural beauty that was formed by the actions of glaciers and meltwater, in a process taking 500 million years. This process has sculpted a landscape perfect for adventure seekers, keen walkers and an array of outdoor activities. It goes without saying, but The Lake District is full of spectacular walking routes with my personal favourite being the Buttermere to Rannerdale (3 miles). So how does this relate back to shortbread I hear you say? Well, one of the world’s most famous shortbread brands is aptly named Walkers Shortbread! Created in 1898 by Joseph Walker, it is now known as the finest shortbread in the world. Nothing quite beats a bit of the Scottish delicacies to keep you energised whilst exploring the endless walking routes of The Lake District.

region: North Wales – biscuit: digestive

So now we’ve stimulated our appetite with a heart-warming piece of shortbread it’s time to dig a little deeper south. My next destination, on the mouth-watering map of Britain, is the beautifully diverse region of North Wales. With over 200 miles of coastline, the highest mountain in Wales, age defying castles and fantastic tourist attractions, North Wales has an array of hidden gems that is sure to cater for every taste and age. This great variety and ability to satisfy all preferences makes North Wales the ever reliable digestive biscuit in our barrel of Britain. There is logic behind the madness so please let me explain… The digestive is a mainstay in everyone’s biscuit barrel and this is partly because of its versatility. They’re compatible with almost everyone’s taste buds and can be consumed in a variety of forms such as chocolate, with cheese and can also be used as the cornerstone to an array of puddings. Similarly, North Wales has all the core characteristics that are the cornerstone to any holiday destination.

region: Somerset – biscuit: mcvitie’s cheddars

Whilst strategically moving the top level of shortbread and digestives aside I unearth more hidden treasures as I stumble across the unspoilt county of Somerset. Rich with heritage, culinary delights, the world’s most famous music festival and of course cheese; Somerset is truly an amazing spectacle. One of the regions biggest outputs is of course Cheddar Cheese, which is consumed all around the world, but did you know if the cheese isn’t actually created in the village and aged in the caves of the gorge, it isn’t strictly speaking “Cheddar Cheese” but actually just an impersonator? This brings me onto the next biscuit in the barrel, the McVitie’s Cheddars. There is great debate surrounding this “biscuit” as many seem to think it’s actually a cracker, however according to Wikipedia, “Cheddars are a brand of baked Cheddar cheese-flavoured British-style savoury biscuits”. McVitie’s Cheddars are by no means an impersonator and due to the fact it is founded upon the taste of cheese it is the perfect biscuit to represent the county of Somerset.

region: Devon – biscuit: custard cream

Next on the taste filled journey is a small jump south across into the bordering county of Devon, a region sandwiched in between Somerset and Cornwall. Devon is a county full of contrasts with rugged coastlines and the best beach in Britain to rolling hills and unspoilt countryside. It is also renowned for its custard! (You may remember the “Go West” Ambrosia advert). This well known connection leads me seamlessly into Devon’s biscuit counterpart, the Custard Cream. One of Britain’s favourite biscuits, the custard cream is the perfect fit for Devon because its sandwich structure and custard filling perfectly encapsulates the regions geography and favourite pudding…custard.

region: Cornwall – biscuit: jammie dodger

Rummaging further into the barrel, I reach down to the bottom left corner eagerly hoping for some mouth watering surprises… I’m not disappointed when my hand returns to the surface grasping the colourful county of Cornwall. The region is famous for its 300 plus golden beaches, clotted cream and surf. It is also home to the “jam first scone” opposed to the “cream first scone” of Devon. The battle of the Cream Tea is a hot topic in the South West of England but ultimately there isn’t any difference in taste it’s all just a matter of preference. The Cornish stance of jam before cream is why the Jammie Dodger is the perfect biscuit alter ego.

region: Isle of Wight – biscuit: malted milk

For a final time I reach deep into the biscuit barrel of Britain eagerly anticipating a scrumptious delight. I’ve almost fulfilled my appetite but my taste buds demand one last serving. From the depths of the barrel my fingers emerge, extracting a remarkable find… The Isle of Wight. Known as the dinosaur capital of Great Britain the island plays host to successful music festivals and one of the biggest sailing regattas in the world, Cowes Week. There are plenty of things to keep you entertained on the Island which is summarised well in the 8 Wonders of the Isle of Wight. One of which is the fact that the Isle of Wight is home to “Cowes you cannot milk”. This interesting fact provides a crumbly link to the Malted Milk. This classic has a unique design that features two cows which is why the biscuit is widely known as the cow biscuit.

With my hunger fulfilled and my appetite quenched, my journey of exploration through the biscuit barrel of Britain has come to an end. If you’ve made it to the “bottom of the barrel” well done! I hope your journey was as tasty as mine (I’ve sampled hundreds of biscuits all in the name of research). Finally, I hope my article helps explain my analogy further as to why “Britain is a Barrel of Biscuits”.

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