Drinking our way through the English Tea
It is a well-known fact that most of the kitchen crew at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s English Tea enjoy a wee sip of spirits while plating food or doing dishes. The lure of alcohol is one reason why kitchen duty is a coveted job.
This year we started out with just a small mimosa and a few drops of coconut Kahlua in our coffee. It was about that time that we noticed the strawberries with signature St. Paul’s chocolate discs had been placed in front of a heat source and the discs were drooping like dogs in a heat wave. Oops . Of course, we didn’t serve them. The guests never knew.
Gerald Hancock is a deliciously wicked man. He introduced booze into the tea kitchen. He gleefully greases the wheels of sandwich plating and scone decorating with beer and wine. My general rule is never to drink before the second seating is served. I violate it each and every year. Perhaps it is merely a suggestion.
So this year Bill Muir was invited to assist in the kitchen. We like to add a few men to the generally all-woman crew to demonstrate our inclusiveness. And because they’re a lot of fun. Bill played varsity football at the University of Michigan in the 1960s. So, obviously, I put him on lemon tart duty. Nothing like watching a big, burly former football player meticulously dabbing tart shells with lemon curd. Nothing.
That’s why we didn’t let him near the sparkling wine until after he was done. By the way, it takes a brave woman to wear a Santa sleigh hat while doing dishes. Kathy Ulezelski is a brave woman. And happy. Who doesn’t love a little bubbly with your Palmolive dish soap?
Aside from Bill, one of the hit additions to the crew this year was Ann Sizemore, who brought her homemade coconut Kahlua to the party. Extremely tasty.
I don’t want you to get the idea that we don’t take the tea seriously. The number one rule is perfection. It is not a goal. It’s a rule. No one is allowed in the kitchen who isn’t a perfectionist and quick on their feet. So far, though, it seems the other qualification is bringing tasty alcohol with them. This, my friends, is why we’re not Baptists (bless their hearts).