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Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Tragedies Behind the Tea Biscuit

A Marie is a type of tea biscuit (= a cookie often served with tea) made with wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla flavouring. The biscuit is round and has its name engraved (= grabado) into its top surface. The edges (= bordes) of the top surface are also engraved with an intricate (= elaborado) design. Brits love dunking (= mojar) Marie biscuits in tea and coffee. Marie biscuits are frequently served to children. Babies may be served the biscuits softened in milk as their first solid food. 

The Marie biscuit was created by an English bakery in London in 1874 to commemorate the marriage of the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia to the Duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.
Maria's life was marked by tragedy. She was the aunt of Tsar
Nicholas II of Russia who was murdered in 1918. Her brother Sergei was assassinated in Moscow in 1905, and another brother, Paul, was shot in Saint Petersburg in 1919.
Her marriage to the Duke of Edinburgh was not a happy one. The couple's only son, Hereditary Prince Alfred, became involved in a scandal involving his mistress and shot himself in January 1899, while his parents were celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. He survived, but his embarrassed parents sent him off to Meran to recover, where he died two weeks later, on 6 February. Maria always insisted that everyone should call her "Her Imperial Highness" ("Su Alteza Imperial"). She died in October 1920 in Z├╝rich, Switzerland apparently after receiving a telegram addressed to her as simply "Frau (Mrs) Coburg".

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