Wednesday, June 3, 2009

PARTY PREP. Part I

I've been making those lists again. The ones that I jot down when I'm sorta stuck somewhere---maybe if Chris is in a store, or pumping gas, or on a service call and I've ridden with him for company and to enjoy the day. Or I sit down and go into WORD, and start naming off tables and chairs and platters and pots, and then get into the GOOD STUFF: Pretty food.

We've tentatively set the date for our Lawn Tea in July, though I'd hoped to have it while the cooler days of Spring were still with us. There's so much going on between now and July, though, that even if we found a free weekend, the prep time and the get-ready would be smushed into the middle of other things.


And the Preparation is a great part of the joy of the party to me---the polishing of silver, the laundering of linens, the counting of chairs and spoons and trays. It's so silly a thing, and so useless in the scheme of things, but it BRIGHTS me to plan for a pretty occasion.

There will be sandwiches, of course, the old Southern standards---Paminna Cheese and Egg and Olive and Chicken Salad, on different kinds of breads, crusts-cut-off. And maybe open-faced sandwiches of cream cheese and cucumber, or cream cheese and chives topped with a curled pink ribbon of lox or a fat coral curve of shrimp---on small rounds of bread.

Round party sandwiches, cut with a cookie or biscuit cutter, always had the softest pinched-edged bread, from the smush of the cutter as the rounds were cut. I adored those sandwiches, no matter what was inside the little pillow; they seemed to me to be such a dainty food, I imagined that the small bites enclosed in cushy-soft Wonder Bread must be what angels ate with gentle nibbles round the edge.

A serrated knife could cut nice smooth edges on the squares or triangles, but the rounds were always higher in the middle, tapering off all round to little stitched edges, like overstuffed pillows with neatly seamed sides. And you could spread the bread, top it with a second slice, bear down on that cutter, and have the cutest little poufy pillow, with no filling showing. (an idea stolen in later years by some frozen foods company, taking advantage of the great labor-intensive construction of a PBJ sandwich to foist another expensive "time-saver" onto busy moms and gullible children who each want that because the other has it).

Southern sandwiches have never leaned much toward butter on the bread, except in more exalted circles, in which the ladies of the house had taken more than a passing interest in Trollope or Austen and read of such fancy undertakings as buttering sandwiches. Except for the little bread-and-butter fingers, a staple of the "authentic" Southern teaparty set, whose "high tea" meant wear a hat and was touted as an example for envy and aping.

moire non tomorrow: Snuffcan Sandwiches.

2 comments:

Tonja said...

Oh, the getting ready...I love it too. I think the whole time I am planning or preparing about the fun we will have when we get together. I think of what we will talk about, what it will look like when everyone is here, and how the house and table will look when it's ready. And then...it all goes by so quickly...too quickly!

Kim Shook said...

LISTS!!! I love the listing of it all! The food and the shopping and the timeline. I start weeks in advance and I have a separate list for everything. I actually put the serving dishes on the table the night before with sticky notes in each telling what they are for so that my helpers can put them in the ONLY 'right' place (blush). Bless my family and friends for putting up with me!