Culture, Family, Food and Drink, History, Royalty

In Praise of Afternoon Tea

File:Teapot MET DP-13913-004.jpgSo here I am, the day before my Queen’s funeral, trying to figure out what to do to celebrate her life and my own Britishness (not a bit of the overabundance of which takes away a whit of my love for my adopted country, I assure you).

Some of my family in the UK will be pushing out the boat with a Full English Breakfast before the event.  That’s all well and good if the funeral service starts for you at 11AM, with preliminary events beginning at–say–0830.

But I’ll be up in the middle of the night, and breakfast “before” really isn’t an option, if for no other reason that–at my age–I’m not keen on getting up even earlier to make it.  Nor, given the fact that the funeral is taking place on a weekday, and at relatively short notice, is the possibility of much of a get-together with family, neighbors, and friends.  So I’ll be by myself.

However, come Tuesday, a few of us retired and better-organized will be meeting in Pittsburgh for a simplified afternoon tea.  There’ll be scones, and Victoria sponge, and crustless sandwiches, and sundry other delicacies–probably not enough, but as many as we, in our elderly states, can manage.  And, of course, there’ll be bottomless cups of–well, umm–tea.

All of this has reminded me of my last such event, a Mardi Gras celebration, one which a friend and I conspired to put together in March of 2019. Here’s what she had to say about it:

The ensemble included: fresh raspberries, raspberry jam, and my first taste of clotted cream, homemade scones, an array of delicate finger sandwiches, and beautiful petit fours, to finish….

The conversation sparkled, as did the one-of-a-kind Venetian cordial glasses, unlike a truly unmentionable grappa….

Yeah, what the grappa was doing there, I’m still not quite sure.  Like many national and regional specialties (Greek ouzo, Mexican mezcal, Irish poteen, Thai lao khao, Eastern European slivovitz, American moonshine, and so on), it’s an acquired taste, and doesn’t really exist for any reason other than that it’s easy to prepare with locally available agricultural waste products and that it’s helpful if you want to get hammered quickly.

Still, whatever.  I’m always game for a bit of cultural appropriation, especially when it’s well-meant.  But perhaps–in the future–not at an afternoon tea.

Live and learn.  In oh-so-many ways.

It may be, that if I ever attempt another such gathering, I’ll include a trifle as part of the attraction:

It was the centerpiece of another get-together with the same friend.  And, Lord, it was good as well. And it wouldn’t be at all incongruous in the context of an afternoon tea.

Whatever it is that modern-day Royalists are doing tomorrow, whether it’s as simple as raising a cup of tea, toasting with a Dubonnet and gin (the Queen’s favorite cocktail), or just having a good cry, I salute you!

God Save the Queen!

Long Live the King!


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