June 11, 2016

Strawberry Shortcake, Tea, Sandwiches and Betty Crocker

One of my mom’s treasured books is her red Betty Crocker Cookbook with its red spoon logo.  I grew up with it.  I wonder where it is now.  

Well why bring up Betty Crocker?  

This Saturday morning, the Little Red (painted) Church in Bowen Island, also known as United Church, was having its annual Strawberry Shortcake and Tea weekend.  For CAD$12.00, I got a classic North American strawberry shortcake with a cup of tea, and a small plate of triangle and square sandwiches: egg salad, tuna, ham, and salmon.  There is something special about holding and nibbling two-small bite sandwiches without a crust.  

The tea was served on real bone china made by Royal Albert in England.  There is something special about sipping tea on bone china.  Here is somewhat of a reason why in the fabulous web site of Akira Hojo -  see The effects of porcelain and bone china on the taste of tea. 

Midway, I requested a second cup.  What is it?  I am enjoying it.  The kindly lady told me it was a Tetley’s orange pekoe.

But back to Betty Crocker.  The fictitious cook was first commissioned in 1936, to project flour manufacturer General Mills' idea of the typical American homemaker — motherly, knowledgeable, and caring.  The Little Red Church women serving and wearing summery kitchen aprons exuded that Betty Crockerish vibes – in looks and in demeanor.  In front of her friends, one lady told me to go ahead and use the women’s toilet since the men’s was occupied.  Most unusual for women to suggest, especially to a stranger.  I saw her leave the church hall later, stopped my meal, ran after her, and thanked her.  To my pleasant surprise, she gave me a hug – and she doesn’t even know me .

The Strawberry Shortcake served was in classic North American style – a 5 inch in diameter biscuit (baked by the ladies) with a whipped cream filling, loaded with thinly-sliced fresh strawberries, and topped with more of both.  The other presentation is to use round sponge cakes instead of biscuits.  

Today’s June 11th Strawberry Shortcake is timely because National Strawberry Shortcake Day is celebrated annually on June 14th.

On my way out, I thanked the lady who was serving tea.  She asked if I wanted  a couple of Tetley’s tea bags for home.  

“How thoughtful and caring”, I whispered to myself.  “Just one please.  Thank you!”  

She handed me a small white paper pouch.   Once I got back to my retreat centre’s quarters that afternoon, I saw four tea bags inside. 


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