This article was written by Lauren Shepherd. You can view her blog here.
Another Year (2010), written and directed by Mike Leigh (Vera Drake, Naked), is a film that flows through the seasons. A number of the scenes feature a guest/guests invited round for suppers, a spot of afternoon tea, a barbecue and such. Two of the films characters, Tom and Gerri, played by Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen, spend a lot of their spare time tending to their allotment. As well as being green fingered they both are good cooks. Another Year subtly brings its characters together through circumstances and events that often involve food and drink. There are some heartfelt moments and some painfully tense ones.
The finished product (Earl Grey Tea Loaf)
A constant throughout the film is the believability in that ‘a cup of tea’ really does make things seem a bit better. Having tried to think of a meal to represent Another Year (2010) there were a number that came to mind. – The pasta arrabiata that Tom makes near the beginning, the chicken the Ronnie had with Gerri and Tom, some sort of barbecue food possibly, no.
A moment that stood out was when Mary, played by Lesley Manville, first met Joe’s (Tom and Gerri’s son) girlfriend. Mary is asked to join the four of them for a cup of tea and some cake (that Gerri made specially). Gerri serves a fruit cake as they indulge in uncomfortable behaviour and unnecessary awkwardness.
For this I have selected a classic ‘Earl Grey tea loaf’ recipe. It combines elements of Gerri’s fruit cake and the relationship the characters have with tea. It has little ingredients, but what is in it is full of flavour and quintessential British-ness. The recipe can be found in ‘Jamie’s Great Britain’, under the chapter- afternoon tea, pg 166. So, why not rent, borrow, or buy a copy of Another Year (2010) and attempt a lovely Earl Grey tea loaf to go along with it. The two go together like Tom and Jerry and Tom and Gerri. You might as well. Don’t wait another year!
Seasonality: This recipe can be made all year round, but if you want to be proper fancy, grapes (raisins) come in to season in October and citrus fruits like oranges and lemons (for the cheeky zest) are in season from December through to March. However, both ingredients are available year round in supermarkets. Tea is and should be a drink you’d have all year, so really there is no excuse not to try.