Things People Eat At Tea
The top dish on the "curate" should be a covered one, and holds hot bread of some sort; the two lower dishes may be covered or not, according to whether the additional food is hot or cold; the second dish usually holds sandwiches, and the third cake. Or perhaps all the dishes hold cake; little fancy cakes for instance, and pastries and slices of layer cakes. Many prefer a simpler diet, and have bread and butter, or toasted crackers, supplemented by plain cookies. Others pile the "curate" until it literally staggers, under pastries and cream cakes and sandwiches of pâté de foie gras or mayonnaise. Others, again, like marmalade, or jam, or honey on bread and butter or on buttered toast or muffins. This necessitates little butter knives and a dish of jam added to the already overloaded tea tray.
Selection of afternoon tea food is entirely a matter of whim, and new food-fads sweep through communities. For a few months at a time, everyone, whether in a private house or a country club, will eat nothing but English muffins and jam, then suddenly they like only toasted cheese crackers, or Sally Lunn, or chocolate cake with whipped cream on top. The present fad of a certain group in New York is bacon and toast sandwiches and fresh hot gingerbread. Let it be hoped for the sake of the small household that it will die out rather than become epidemic, since the gingerbread must be baked every afternoon, and the toast and bacon are two other items that come from a range.
Sandwiches for afternoon tea as well as for all collations, are made by buttering the end of the loaf, spreading on the "filling" and then cutting off the prepared slice as thin as possible. A second slice, unspread, makes the other side of the sandwich. When it is put together, the crust is either cut off leaving a square and the square again divided diagonally into two triangular sandwiches, or the sandwich is cut into shape with a regular cutter. In other words, a "party" sandwich is not the sort of sandwich to eat—or order—when hungry!
The tea served to a lady who lives alone and cares for only one dish of eatables would naturally eliminate the other two. But if a visitor is "received," the servant on duty should, without being told, at once bring in at least another dish and an additional cup, saucer, plate and napkin.
Afternoon tea at a very large house party or where especially invited people are expected for tea, should include two plates of hot food such as toast or hot biscuits split open and buttered, toasted and buttered English muffins, or crumpets, corn muffins or hot gingerbread. Two cold plates should contain cookies or fancy cakes, and perhaps a layer cake. In hot weather, in place of one of the hot dishes, there should be pâté or lettuce sandwiches, and always a choice of hot or iced tea, or perhaps iced coffee or chocolate frappé, but rarely if ever, anything else.