Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Attempt at a Middle Tea

Since I'm taking a group of students to London next Fall, I thought I should get them ready for the experience by introducing them to what they might expect at an English tea. (As if they will even experience a tea when they are there, but tradition dies hard!)

This was no meaty "high tea", but rather a sit down afternoon affair with the three basic British food groups: sandwiches, scones and biscuits (and a few crisps thrown in for fun just to see if I could catch the students calling them "chips".)

The weather cooperated by being gray, cold and dismal, perfect for warm scones and crumpets with butter. We talked about proper stirring, using milk and not cream so you could still appreciate the delicate flavor of the tea and I tried hard to get them to eat their scones and crumpets with sweet butter and marmalade. (Alas clotted cream was nowhere to be found in our local stores and the marmalade was over sweet, but all in all I think it was a suitable substitute.) I noticed both my cheeses and butter were untouched at the end of the meal, so the students still have some learning to do about (generalized) British taste. I was astonished that crumpets were such a hit, but as my sister says nothing is nicer than a buttery warm crumpet on a cool day. (Or even an unbuttered one?)

I was in such a tizzy over cooking that I forgot to take pictures of the students, but I do have a couple of images of the food. Here is the table.

Biscuits (Carr's Lemon tea biscuits and my spouse's wonderful shortbread are on the left, the scones (store bought I'm afraid) are bottom right and the sandwiches (in which I put most of my "cooking" industry are top right.

I made four types of sandwiches, two cucumber sandwiches (\one with watercress and butter and one with watercress and butter (right side of the platter) and one with shrimp and lemon mayonnaise (bottom middle). To the left are roasted red pepper and goat cheese sandwiches dusted in walnut crumbs and top middle are a delightful radish sandwich with poppy seed and cress.  I found the recipes on a BBC site and one other website that gave all kinds of suggestions for tea.  Even the birds ate well yesterday, because the garden is now full of those pesky bread crusts.  There were also condiments, the crumpets (which were in the oven while I was taking the picture) and a plate of cheeses that don't appear in the photo. There was of course also TEA: English breakfast, a lovely little Nepalese tea, Earl Grey and then a jasmine and genmai tea in case the drinkers preferred Asian tea. All in all I think it went well and my students could return to studying for their exams fortified and ready to work.

No comments: