The beginning of March is a very busy time in this house. Within 4 days, my husband, oldest son and sister all have a birthday. And in the preceding 3 days, one of my oldest friends in the world, a dear cousin, another friend and a good friend’s husband also celebrate another year. In short, this means a LOT of cakes. And of course a big family tea.
When my parents moved to London from America just before I was born, one of the first truly English traditions that they adopted was tea. My father has a few cousins who live here, and, on their arrival, my parents were swiftly absorbed into their new extended family. This basically meant my parents were included whenever there was an opportunity to eat. Outside of the usual large meals, family tea parties to mark birthdays and anniversaries were de rigeur. I am proud to say this tradition continues.
The Sunday nearest to anyone’s birthday is set aside for family tea, and this Sunday we celebrated my oldest son turning 10. As usual, the matriarchs assembled a few weeks in advance to plan a superb feast, for what turned out to be the first sunny afternoon of the season. Birthday tea is definitely a collaborative effort, where everyone arrives with their particular famous treats, and there is always something new for us to try.
This year’s surprise winner was my mother’s Orange Marmalade Cake which she found last month in the New York Times and the recipe is a keeper.
Included in the tea spread there were of course, the obligatory sandwiches, Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (recipe coming soon on the blog), Rhubarb bars, and cookies. Although special mention goes to my godmother’s scones, which were outstanding as usual, and my wonderful Danish friend brought a family specialty called blod nougat - nougat and marzipan wrapped in dark chocolate.