This weekend’s London terrorist attacks hit close to my heart. In college I spent a semester abroad in London with a string quartet. Oberlin College already had an English program abroad, and the Conservatory of Music piggy-backed on their infrastructure and sent two quartets to study intensively.
It was one of the best educational experiences I had as an undergraduate, albeit challenging. I thought it would be easy to live in a country where I spoke the language, but soon learned that all the different Brit, Scottish and Welsh accents were difficult to understand at times.
I was a vegetarian and lived in a hippie Co-Op at Oberlin, and I wasn’t too fond of the food in London. I survived on Indian food and sometimes chips with no fish.
Our quartet struggled to get along; we were living together in a flat AND practicing 4-6 hours a day, and at one point tensions were high. I offered to move in with some of the other English majors, and that was a good decision. I went to plays, toured the Globe Theatre and rented a cottage in the Lake District with a group of friends during our fall break. We had to walk to the nearest pub and that was a good incentive to stay in shape in spite all the beer we were drinking.
One highlight was being invited to High Tea at Harrod’s by a British pianist I met in a chamber music program before my semester started. I was amazed by how much of a ritual it was; not just tiny cucumber sandwiches and scones, but whipped cream and lots of other pastries. And I became a tea and biscuit fanatic in London, as we had a daily practice break with all the students.
This was long before I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s or realized just why beer hurt my stomach SO much. I ate freely (except for meat) and didn’t worry about sugar or fat content.
It was also before Europe was quite so plagued by terrorist threats, but it was beginning. I remember touring Paris with a friend during break and seeing the French CRS, or compagnies républicaines de sécurité, lined up with their machine guns near banks and popular public areas. I moved to France after college. I got used to having my purse searched before going into a department store and seeing all the garbage cans covered in the pedestrian mall in Marseille.
Europeans are accustomed to being targeted. They are constantly on high alert.
And yet terrorism still prevails. Terrorists are very good at waiting until everyone has their guard down, or finding the one moment to strike. There is no easy solution. More police hasn’t always helped in France, and how intelligence is interpreted is beyond our understanding as civilians.
I do know that it is easy as Americans to say that we would do it differently, that we are stronger, that we will prevail. We are far away from the countries that seed terrorism and feel less vulnerable. I do know that fear-mongering won’t help; terrorists thrive on that. The hatred and rhetoric of fear are what justify their cause.
And so today I am making scones. I making scones in celebration of London, or my memories of such a wonderful, diverse place. I’m thinking of the markets, the Tube (“Mind the Gap!”), riding my bike through Hyde park, dancing hip hop in underground night clubs, shopping, walking in Kensington and going to Pubs. It was a more innocent time for my diet, but today I have to be more careful.
To make scones, I adopted Living Lovely Autoimmune’s Recipe for Coconut Flour Biscuits. This basic recipe has changed my life and made breakfasts and lunches more fun. https://www.livinglovelyautoimmune.com/recipes/tidbitsextras/fluffy-aip-biscuits-2-0/
To make sweeter scones, I took half the batter and added 2 Tbs coconut sugar (which turns the scones a little brown), a dash of cinnamon (1/2 tsp) and then added in dried Pomegranate seeds, small strawberry bites, and ripe blueberries for a berry trifecta. I shaped them into triangles and cooked them a little extra (25 mins) in order for batter to set around the berries. I baked the rest into biscuits to have for savory food. They are not picture-perfect, but boy are they delicious! No grains, no dairy, no sugar…yet sweet with a wonderful, scone-like texture.
I don’t know if my friend Liz would have approved; there will be no whipped cream with this high tea (although if I had the ingredients on hand I would make maple whipped coconut cream), and I will slather on ghee and honey instead of butter. However, she had a big heart and I know that as much as I am feeling empathy for the people of London, she would forgive me and want me to heal.
London, you are in our hearts. We honor you and send you peace.