Confession: I’ve never had Afternoon Tea until 3 days ago. That’s how you know that after 16 years of living in England, I’m still too American for my own good. Nevertheless, the opportunity to engage in this British ritual arose during a day trip in Suffolk (you’ll be hearing more about the lovely county over the next couple of days). In London, I’ve heard about having Tea at the Ritz, and it struck me as one of those things I’d do once I grew out of wearing jeans 90% of the time (denim attire isn’t allowed) and wanted to prove that my faux-poshness could actually extend beyond dropping “but DAAAAAAAAAHLING!”, “How QUAINT!” and “can I have smidgen of Branston Pickle?” (pre-1993, this is how I though British people sounded. A decade and a half later of being immersed in multi-culturalism, I have learned my lesson; many of them, in fact).
The event of Afternoon Tea in itself requires a level of modesty – sandwiches are nibbled rather than scoffed, tea sipped rather than slurped and if the temptation to ask for ketchup to accompany the bland cucumber sandwiches bites you in the neck, the subsequent antidote is to burn your tongue with the aforementioned tea and smack your hand for being so common. I did the latter.
Of course, I have every intention of doing Tea again, purely because I’m in love with cakes (a terrible, calorific affair) and I won’t be erasing the memory of that gorgeous, fluffy, delectable scone I savoured anytime soon.
(Thanks to Festivals Suffolk and The Swan, Southwald)