Ria’s Teashop Secrets: A regal flavour

May is the month of queens in Ria's Rosy Lee Tearoom
May is the month of queens in Ria's Rosy Lee Tearoom

Ria Chambers from Ria’s Rosy Lee Tearoom in Wellingborough on May’s royal connections.

Hooray, it’s May! Or so you could say.

However, this month has proven challenging when deciding on the theme for the tearoom.

I know the obvious answer lies in the saying ‘April showers bring May flowers’, but I had a floral theme in March – although the violet cake from March was such a runaway success I’m baking it most weeks now.

So, I’ve been doing my research to find out what events there are in May.

In Greek mythology the month of May is named after Maia, one of the Seven Sisters who act as muses and inspiration to us mere mortals.

We also begin the month with May Day, a tradition brought to England by the Romans who used the day to celebrate Flora the goddess of flowers and spring.

This has translated in modern times to choosing a May Day queen and dancing around a Maypole.

Talking of queens, May 24 was Queen Victoria’s birthday, which also used to be Empire Day until it was replaced by Commonwealth Day in 1958 and moved to March.

By this point in my research I realised I kept coming across goddesses and queens.

So I’ve decided to take a regal route and make May the month of Queens.

How does this transfer into food, you may ask?

Well, it’s not that difficult when you put your mind to it.

Many of the cakes we have today originated from the Royal households who often dictated food trends or had items of food named after them.

One of Britain’s most popular cakes, the Victoria sponge, was created for Queen Victoria, and her husband Prince Albert brought the Battenburg with him from Germany.

And Maids of Honour which are now associated with their famous eponymous tearoom in Richmond were invented for Catherine of Aragon.

I have also since uncovered recipes for Queen Elizabeth cake, Windsor cake, Duke of Cambridge tart and, rather appropriately, Empire cake which was used to celebrate Empire Day.

And I had best not forget ‘the Queen of Hearts, she had some tarts’ – or it’ll be off with my head!