For a couple of summers when I was little, my family and I stayed in a college town so my father could pursue an advanced degree in library science. We stayed in a very retro apartment building, and yes it was the early 70s, with a pool steps from our sliding door. That pool was the center of my world. You could see it from the couch, dinette, and every other corner of the living room. It was classic kidney-shaped with just enough cement between it and the other apartments’ sliding doors. An Australian colleague of my father’s was also staying with his family in the same building. Instantly we had more than libraries in common—we had the pool. All of the day’s activities seemed to center around its edges, beckoning us kids to take the plunge, life vests and all, and paddle until our limbs grew tired and the skin on our fingertips shriveled, accentuating the one thing that makes us unique.
Our families picked up on each other’s traditions, so often we would have Greek night or afternoon tea. I think the tea idea was just an excuse for the moms to get us out of the water and indoors for a bit. Tea didn’t quite get me excited, but the biscuits that were served with it sure did. Achingly sweet strawberry jam and freshly whipped cream filled these flaky pillows. We ate so many of these teatime treats that we were banned from the pool for the requisite “30-minute-rule of no swimming after eating”.
I tried to search for a reference to this Australian treat, but came up with only a recipe for Pikelet, which is more like a pancake with strawberry jam and whipped cream. Though, it is served for afternoon tea, so maybe our friends just improvised with the biscuits.
It’s not quite summer and I no longer have a pool outside my sliding door. But I do love a cup of tea in the middle of the afternoon and nothing could be better with it than strawberry jam biscuits and the memories that those special summers gave me.