Saturday, October 27, 2007


The Round Robin in which I have been participating has come to an end, and my very lovely Tea Party book has found its way home.

The eight very creative ladies taking part have all contributed their pages, and the end result is just beautiful.

It is a very nostalgic look at tea parties, most people choosing a style that recalls more elegant days, when tea time was a very gracious ritual and a special occasion for bringing out your finest china, displaying fine linens, and showing off your talents in the kitchen (unless you were fortunate enough to pay someone to do that for you!)

Many of the pages have old doileys incorporated into them, and Diana from New Zealand even attached a very beautiful old butter knife.

I asked the participants to record an old family recipe on the reverse side of each page, and there are some wonderful ones, including Butterfly Cakes, Rock Cakes, Mary McGovern's Strawberry Jam, Val's Neverfail Sponge, and Grandma's Scones.

Art Nouveau and Edwardian feature strongly on the pages, which is exactly what I had in mind. There is even a page featuring a dolls' teaparty.

It is so sad that we do not seem to take time for this very unique form of hospitality very often nowadays. It is usually a case of "Meet me for coffee" or "Join me for a beer." We do not seem to have the time clean and dust and vacuum, plump the cushions, set an elegant table, with beautifully laundered and starched cloths and serviettes and polished silver. Nor are we prepared to put the hours in to produce those special recipes, indulgent cakes and pastries, and delicate sandwiches and savouries.

Life is so "instant" these days.

I suppose we now favour different sorts of occasions. Here in Norfolk Island - and elsewhere - we have plenty of barbecues and "Pot luck" suppers and Fish Fries. Cocktail parties seem to have gone the way of tea parties, and the best we can manage is "Drinks (usually BYO) and finger food. Opening a few packets of chips and nuts, with the odd tub of commercial dip and oven-ready dim sims or chicken wings is often about the extent of our efforts. We do not seem to have the time or inclination to show our friends how much we care by taking the time to produce something really special. And if you do, you run the risk of being called a "Show-off"!
However, hospitality and getting together are still very much part of our lives, at least here on Norfolk Island. Only last night, we had about 35 here at our place, all family and extended family.We had a Fish Fry, and everyone brought salads and sweets and drinks. It was a veritable feast, and a truly happy occasion. The kids kicked a ball around on the front lawn till quite late in the night, thanks to the full moon, with the dogs - and even Charles' cat - joining in. We all ate till we could fit no more in, and it was delicious.
So I suppose food and drink is still important in the way we celebrate family and friendship and special occasions. We just do it differently. No doubt the little ones who piled their plates high with chips and trifle and pies last night will look back on these occasions with nostalgia in years to come, and refer to this time as "the good old days."
Because my scanner is playing up, I cannot bring you any more pictures of my "Tea Parties" book. I look forward to showing you more when I have sorted out the problem...and I also look forward to trying the "Carrot Cake", "Le Gateau Orange" and some of the other delightful old recipes in my Tea Parties book.

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