You never get a second chance to make a first impression. I don’t know who drilled that into me, probably my mother. But I think about that all the time when I’m about to start something new. Well, last Thursday night I was thinking about it a lot. For better or worse, I’m the food chairman for our P.E.O. tea in a couple of weeks and I told the girls I’d bring some samples to our regular meeting.  I have never cooked for them before. And I did a bad thing. I didn’t get the right bread for the cucumber sandwiches. It is difficult to overstate that gaffe. A cucumber sandwich must be served on a round of white bread. No substitutions are allowed.

So here I am at eight o’clock at night making square cucumber sandwiches because my bread slices were too small to cut rounds out. I knew it was wrong. The first impression of my P.E.O. sisters would be that this Mayhew woman didn’t know squat about tea sandwiches. I barely slept a wink. And it came to me at about 5:30 in the morning. Chicken salad! I can make chicken salad and banish the cucumber sandwiches and no one will be the wiser!

DSCN0490I am sure the people at the Publix were just wondering what I was doing tearing up and down the aisles before the sun was up, getting all the ingredients for curried chicken salad. But I felt a lot better, even if it cost me about thirty bucks. Being a cheapskate, that did hurt a little.

But here you go. This is what I brought to the meeting. In the back are Blue Moon sandwiches – always on wholewheat bread and always cut in squares. In the middle is the chicken salad in phyllo cups. In the front are hazelnut chocolate truffles. The ladies were impressed. I was not embarrassed. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

This might seem like a trivial thing to you, but there are some things you just need to do right.

I know you want that chicken salad recipe. It’s absolutely delicious in sandwiches and you don’t have to worry how to cut the bread. I have to give credit where credit is due. This is Wanda Woolen’s recipe from our English Tea at St. Paul’s. Wanda knows a thing or two about tradition. She taught me well.

Curried Chicken Salad

2 large chicken breasts, cooked and finely chopped (approximately two cups)

1 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons curry powder

¼ cup diced golden raisins

1 cup finely diced Granny Smith apple (peeled, cored, and rinsed with Fruit Fresh)

½ cup finely diced celery

1 tablespoon minced scallion or shallot

1 teaspoon salt

Sliced, finely chopped almonds may be added if desired


Mix all ingredients except chicken thoroughly. Stir chicken into mixture. Refrigerate at least four hours, preferably overnight.

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