Whatever happened to tea and scones?

By Squinter

F OR TEN or fifteen minutes between 10.30am and 11am every morning building sites all over Ireland come to a halt for the mid-morning break. And because these are real workers doing real jobs, they require real food. Deskbound bluffers like Squinter require little or nothing to provide the energy needed for two hours of keyboard-tapping till lunch, but the blokes in the hard hats and the rigger boots need fed; properly fed.

Sausage rolls are generally the substantial snack of choice, although many prefer the sugar-boost provided by buns or cakes with their mug of tea. It was only a matter of time before the close proximity of these items led to an outbreak of intimacy, and so the sausage roll/coconut finger sandwich has come to pass; not only is it being consumed with relish in building site huts and white vans from Ballycastle to Bandon, it’s being necked at lunchtime by those hordes of pupils who pass up school dinners and head straight to the home bakery.

The sausage roll bap has, of course, long been a staple of the Belfast diet, although Squinter has to say he was never fussed about it. What need is there for an outer casing of bread when the sausagemeat centre is already encased in a thick layer of flaky, greasy pastry? That’s a question that doesn’t trouble the legions of sausage roll bap fans who would like the EU to declare it a protected regional speciality like the HP sauce sandwich or the six-county fry. Will the sausage roll/coconut finger sandwich stand the test of time – or is it a passing fad that will be a conversational curio in years to come, like Vesta curries and Barry McGuigan’s crisps?

The delicacy provoked a torrent of differing reactions when Squinter first revealed it on Twitter last Thursday after one was delivered to the office by a local worker keen to spread the new gospel. Many were horrified, but a goodly number of others pointed out quite reasonably that the juxtaposition of sweet and savoury is nothing new. One wonders, for instance, what the reaction was the day somebody decided serve the Christmas dinner with a dollop of cranberry jelly on top of the turkey; or how the diners reacted when they were first handed their roast pork and crackling with a lump of

apple purée on the side.

You can see how it came about. Miserable day, cold and damp, the appointed runner returns from the bakery with the orders, which are then eagerly distributed around the brazier. It was only going to be a matter of time before someone looked at their buttered coconut finger and wondered, what would that be like with one of them sausage rolls in the middle? And of course since the Sausage Rolls Act (NI) 1964  expressly forbids the consumption of said item without HP sauce, a squirt of that was thrown into the mix too.

So what’s it like?, the cry goes up. Well, out of the four guinea pigs who gave it a whirl, one swore never to touch it again; one thought the sweet icing and coconut afterkick was a little too strong; one jumped in his car and went to the bakery for another. And Squinter? Well, let’s just say that while it wasn’t as mingin’ as he had originally feared, he thinks he’ll stick to the mid-morning Ryvita and carrot.

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