And so to Botanicals week! Flowers, herbs, tea. Tea? Yep. From dear puppyish Tom, who likes to play around with unusual flavours, a tactic which sometimes produces a result like a delicious steak dinner for a good boy, and sometimes a result like a dog’s dinner which has been wolfed down slightly too quickly and quietly thrown up again behind the sofa. Which would it be? Who would be the gorgeous hand-tied bouquet of hothouse roses and who the bunch of petrol station carnations, and similar hokey comparisons…? The excitement was intense and the floral clothing delightful, particularly Jane’s special shirt, which apparently normally comes out once a year, I’m guessing for the Chelsea Flower Show.
And on to the first challenge, a citrus meringue pie. Mary Berry confided to the camera that she liked her meringue baked in the oven, a bit of a downer for most of the contestants who were producing Italian meringue, which apparently doesn’t need cooking, something which has always been a mystery to me. Jane’s meringue was Swiss, something I’ve never heard of before, and I can’t tell you anything about it other than it doesn’t appear to be particularly neutral. Perhaps it’s called Swiss meringue because it holds its shape better and therefore can be more easily formed into mountainous peaks, or perhaps it’s beloved of bankers. I can’t tell you, because the show seems to have dropped the little segments where they go into the history of a particular form of baked good.
This is perhaps because we’ve got to know the contestants well enough to find them sufficiently interesting on their own, or possibly because the budget has run out and therefore there is no longer the moolah to send Sue or Mel to France to ask a charming French baker in a medieval village in the Loire how to make ze parfait fougasse, even if they go by car ferry. (My spell-check originally corrected that last to ‘car ferret’, an interesting concept, although one which I feel will require ferrets both considerably larger and somewhat less frisky than the current model if it is to succeed.) How very different it will be for Channel 4! With twenty-five million smackers in the bank they’ll be able to fly French and Saunders to Florida to investigate Key Lime Pie, first class all the way, with nary a second thought.