And I know a lot of them. Last weekend, I was (cheerfully) roped into helping prepare and serve a "proper" English tea by an old friend who had offered up her home, her china, and her silver tea pots for the benefit of my goddaughter's school. I have placed the word "proper" in quotation marks, because this was a tea hosted by Canadian-Americans, which means that it just might have been even more so than a true, English tea. The Canadians, after all, still celebrate Queen Victoria's birthday. The English, however, have long since moved on.
Scones were baked and served with Devonshire cream, butter, and jam. Little tea cakes were made available as were a number of precious, crustless tea sandwiches: cucumber, egg salad, smoked salmon, and Coronation Chicken.
It was the last one that really caught my attention. I asked Mary Pat, my friend Shannon's mother (and my former, formidable piano teacher), about it and she explained that the dish was called Coronation Chicken Salad because it was served at a luncheon in honor of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation. Well, that seemed straightforward enough.
It also fit in nicely with the conversation about World War II food rationing I was having with my friend Craig and my goddaughter, Zelly, on the way to their house. Don't ask. These things just happen. We got so involved talking about u-boats, the Battle of Britain, and how Queen Elizabeth (mother of the present queen regnant) was glad Buckingham Palace was bombed so that she could then "look the East End in the face," that we forgot to stop for some necessary but overlooked tea supplies.
The Back Story
Coronation Chicken Salad was created by chef Rosemary Hume and the credit grabbed by one Constance Spry, a social-climbing society florist when students at her Winkfield Domestic Science School (at which Miss Hume was an instructress) were asked to cater a luncheon for the leaders of the Commonwealth Nations gathering together for the new queen's coronation.