i went to an elementary school here on island that was run by an army colonel cum chaplain and his very flamboyant wife. they did, however, have gentility coursing through their blood, and enjoyed certain rituals from their deep southern roots. they would host a headmaster's tea at the beginning of every school year to introduce the staff to the students and their families, and another event in the springtime known as the table fashions tea, where groups would compete by creating unique tablesettings with various themes. needless to say, this was guam, not england nor even savannah, and the whole thing was orchestrated by a belle of the ball who was less scarlet o'hara than dolores del rio--all bright and floaty in her muu-muus and flip flops, always with a bright flower behind one ear--so propriety was relevant to island life amongst the new colonials in the seventies, which is to say not very proper at'all. the 'tea' was actually a punch made from fruit juice, lemon-lime soda, and scoops of neon-toxic coloured sherbet, the tables would be groaning with congealed salads topped by miniature multicoloured marshmallows, boxed mix brownies, and tea sandwiches involving all manners of things mixed in with creamed or cottage cheese. but any reason to break out a punch bowl and petit fours was reason enough.
when the colonel retired in the eighties, the teas disappeared, as did the need for petit fours and sandwich loaves. however, the old school bakeries remain, and although you might be hard pressed to find a baker who remembers how to make a petit four, no one bats an eye if you ask for a tea sandwich loaf, which is a pullman loaf of bread, sliced lengthwise; they are equally unfazed by any tinting requests you may have for the loaf, so bespoke sandwiches may match whatever theme that may strike your fancy. try asking for *that* at la brea bakery.
i often think my love of fanciful dishware and plates must come from my childhood teas experiences, which probably also fuels my penchant for fanciful tea foods. i like understated and elegant, sure, but there are days when only things in aspic, sugary divinity, or the jammiest bakewell tart with a crown of white icing and glacé cherry nipple will do.**
anyway, i have been on a one-person crusade to return such sartorial resplendence to the party table, and was asked to make some sandwiches for a holiday soirée. i probably won't be asked again, but despite the colours, the fillings were rather nice: egg with capers and a smoky spanish pimentón, turkey with a cranberry-pecan-orange zest cream cheese, and cured salmon with an herby cream cheese and cucumber. slightly more sophisticated than the kitchen sponge exterior would imply; if i win the approval of stomachs, perhaps i may win the eyes as well.
**speaking of childhood and cherry nipples on the cake, i'm watching late night reruns on the soap opera network--when did rick springfield return to 'general hospital'??
Posted by santos. This entry was posted on 20051213 at 11:35 PM You can skip to the end and leave a response.