On his Legendary Dartmoor pages, Tim Sandles offers a magical history of the origins of clotted cream, involving a princess, an old crone, and a Piskie prince. In Issue 2 of The Mariner’s Mirror in 1950, R. C Holmes writes, “The first ships to affect the lives and habits of the natives of our islands were those of the Phoenicians, who came to Cornwall and Devon for cargoes of tin, and left us the recipe for making the delicious and indigestible clotted cream for which that part of the country is still famous.” However, in volume 17 of the 1951-52 Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, Shimon Applebaum notes, “There is no archaeological proof for trade-contacts by the Phoenicians with Cornwall.” Timothy Champion, in issue 4 of 2001’s Nations and Nationalism journal, not only agreed that, “It was widely believed that the Phoenicians had been present in Britain, especially in Cornwall, despite a lack of convincing historical evidence,” but suggested rather more darkly that this was an example of, “national and imperial constructions of the past.” Anyway, monks were apparently producing a precursor of the cream tea in Tavistock, Devon back in the 11th Century. Whether Cornwall or Devon came first, or learned from the Phoenicians or not, they historically comprised most of the parts of Britain lush enough for cows to produce the most creamy milk needed to make it worthwhile producing clotted cream, and they still produce most of the UK’s supply.
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