Tea Cakes

Brand: Tunnock’s

Cost: £1

Found at: Sainsbury’s

I arrived in Scotland as I arrive in every new country: jetlagged, bewildered and smelling of sweat and sleeplessness. Just because I travel a lot does not mean that I travel well. And the last thing I wanted upon my arrival was a new experience: I wanted a shower, a nap, and a bowl of Life cereal. So, when the housing staff offered me tea and cakes, I wanted to slap them out of their hands run away to my little burrow, never to be seen again. But that’s a bold first impression – especially if they have not given you your key, yet – so I took the tea, which was welcome, and the tea cake, which was less so, and ran away to my little burrow, never to be seen again.

These tea cakes are apparently a Scottish staple, but to American eyes, they look a lot like fireworks. Wrapped in colorful tin foil in a package of six, I couldn’t help but remember my time working for the fireworks stand, selling cases of foil-wrapped mortars to men with nine fingers and an exciting plan for this year’s display. But fireworks were forbidden in the dorms, and I had not yet found the grocery store, so I hazarded a tea cake, opening it close to the window just in case there had been some mix-up. But this was not some exotic Scottish confection, only edible to the most hardened Glaswegians – this was a s’more! It was a gram cracker, topped with marshmallow, and dipped in chocolate. I’d come 4,000 miles from Tacoma only to end up to a rainy port city where people eat s’mores! So, while jetlag might be a hurdle, it occurred to me then, maybe culture shock would not.

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