RHYS BOWEN: As you know I am currently in England and one of the things I look forward to most when I am here is teatime. To me it is the perfect civilized meal--a welcome break at the time when tiredness hits. Everything prepared in advance so plenty of time to sit, chat and enjoy.. You can have it at the Ritz for fifty five pounds or at a country cafe for five. In someone's home or even out on the lawn on fine summer days when strawberries and cream may be added.
The white tablecloth set with the best bone china. Tiny sandwiches containing smoked salmon or cucumber or egg and cress followed by my favorite part of the meal--freshly baked scones with cream and strawberry jam. Since I'm down in Cornwall at the moment the cream is real clotted cream--as thick and yellow as butter. A big dollop on top of a warm scone and I'm in heaven.
The meal is finished with cake--either slices of a big cake, a Victoria sponge or a rich fruit cake, or little cakes of various sorts--ranging from simple rock buns to petit fours. And of course there is the tea. Always loose leaf made with boiling water in a pot. It can be strong and black, served with milk ans sugar. It can be milder and scented as in Earl Grey. It can be one of the China teas, fragrant and spicy--Oolong, Keemun, Lapsang Sushong. These are always served with lemon instead of milk.
A small point of interest. None of the above is called HIGH TEA. This is afternoon tea. High tea is a meal that combines teatime with some elements of supper--cold ham, cold scotch eggs etc. It is in place of supper when one has to go to a theater, perhaps, or the servants have an evening off. (If you happen to have servants, of course).
At Malice Domestic convention we had a tea to celebrate Agatha Christie's one hundred and fiftieth birthday. It was a lot of fun and we all tucked in....
Except Hank. This was her tea.
Now you know why she stays so fabulously slim.
So tell me, gentle readers... are you big fans of tea as a meal? Any favorite sandwiches or cakes?