I’m not sure what life-lesson I’m supposed to learn from this. Perhaps you might like to leave me a suggestion or two. You see, I am as yet an unpublished writer. There is, however, a piece of my writing that has appeared in print. The woman who employed me to write booklets for her cooking classes has submitted my work (edited to fit her word limit) to a magazine, which has published the article under her name.

I’ve only done it perhaps twice, but each time I read through the printed article, I taste ashes in my mouth. Right there, in print, are words crafted by me. And right next to it, my ex-boss’s face, her face creased into beguiling smile and the name of her business and her own name, printed at the top of the page. How do I explain it? It’s like kicking a winning goal and having everyone congratulating someone else for doing it.

So. I’m going to claim it back, right here, right now. Below are some of my favourite bits from the booklet. I don’t know how to right this wrong, as I have requested acknowledgement and she has refused. So I leave it in the hands of God.

This was written for a cooking class entitled “The Art of High Tea”. It is, sadly enough, one of my favourite pieces.

The Art of High Tea

It is without a doubt that the words ‘high tea’ conjure up images of tiered cakestands, resplendent with delicate but devastatingly rich little cakes and other sweet treats, to be taken with tea sipped from fine bone teacups. There will be an air of rarefied gentility with much conversation and laughter. It’s probably the closest thing we 21st century women have to ancient female rites, as high teas are invariably a girls-only affair. Somehow we know that ‘high tea’ will involve maximum indulgence on the part-takers, a chance to really take our ease – little wonder then that those who make demands on us (ie men and children!) are packed off to other more suitable activities for the afternoon!

High teas are a fairly recent Australian trend. It is not to be confused with our ‘afternoon teas’, during which a mug of coffee or tea together with a biscuit or two are snatched in between school runs or during an office lull. High teas are decidedly uppercrust, and have been successfully marketed by hotels as such.

High tea is a special occasion event that usually takes place at luxury hotel restaurants-indeed it is thanks to these hotels that we have ‘high tea’ as we know it today. It is quite ironic, given that the term high tea was first used amongst the lower class British, who would have their ‘high tea’ as their evening meal, consisting of hearty staples such as sausage, bread and cheese, following a hard day of labour. High tea is still understood, in England today, to be a meal consisting of mostly savoury and somewhat hearty dishes.

Afternoon tea on the other hand is an English institution at such hotels as the Ritz and the Dorchester in London, and it is from these hotels that we have inherited our ‘high teas’. Some writers have remarked that ‘afternoon teas’ are now the domain of tourists and the remnants of an older generation who took afternoon tea everyday without fail. Our cyberspace-age generation simply lack the time and inclination to stop in the middle of the afternoon for a meal that a vending machine can provide for a fraction of price, time – and taste, in all nuances of that last.

What, exactly, constitutes high tea? The Ritz and Dorchester afternoon tea menus offer a selection of sandwiches, scones in one form or another, and something sweet, such as a pastry or two, or some cake. There is always an excellent selection of loose leaf teas, and there is of course, the option of having coffee instead. The portions are not large. Indeed, for all the grandiose air of the tiered cakestands, this is really meant to be a snack, not a full meal in itself. Accordingly, one ends up with a finger sandwich or two, a scone with jam and cream, and a tiny piece of pastry or cake to finish. That pretty much sums up the traditional English afternoon tea. A relatively new trend is to offer a champagne afternoon tea, which is simply the addition of a glass of champagne to the above menu.

 

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