It’s the final of The Great British Bake Off tomorrow. Daughter number 1 and I have planned what we’re going to eat and drink while we watch – milk for her, tea for me, a packet of chocolate digestives for the both of us (unless I make it to the shops on the way home from work and buy some macarons).
We’ve learned a lot about baking from watching The Bake Off, mostly about baking. But last week, she asked me why Nadiya always wears ‘that scarf thingy’. Which gave me the chance to talk to her about religion and how different religions do things differently. She said, ‘oh, okay. And what’s a soufflé?’ Information assimilated with no extra baggage. I’m grateful for that. I’m also grateful that the conversation came up in the context of something so very British. You can’t get much more British than a tent full of people obsessing about cake.
There are many things I love about the Bake Off. Mel and Sue (I’ve been a fan since I was a student watching Light Lunch), bad puns, cakes, biscuits – all favourite things of mine. But this year I’ve realised that there’s something extra to love. Meritocracy. In the GBBO tent, skin colour, religion, accent are all totally irrelevant. It’s ALL about the baking.
The Britain I want my children to grow up in is like that – a place where you are judged on your ability and competence, rather than your ethnicity. I know the real world isn’t always like that (I moved to Yorkshire from Sri Lanka in the early 90s. I know all about how the real world isn’t always like that!), but I’m glad that there are some places where it is. By having contestants like Nadiya and Tamal – who are just as British as Ian or Flora – and judging them only on their skills as bakers, the Bake Off has shown us a Britain to aspire to.
All that while bringing phrases like ‘crème patissiere’ and ‘mirror glaze’ into the general vocabulary of seven year olds.
Well done Bake Off. Keep up the good work.