I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been subjected to it. And these days, Kat tells me it happens more and more often.
One goes to afternoon tea, is asked if one would care for milk and sugar, and when the sugar is requested, it arrives in the form of granules, or (horror of horrors) individual packets!
I know that times do and must change, and I realize that the “kids these days” like to forego the formal and embrace the casual. But there are some things that are institutions and must be preserved. Just as Theodore Roosevelt saw the importance of setting aside large tracts of nature and established the National Park System, I see the importance of elegance, culture, and basic weights and measures that the sugar cube embodies!
The phrase is, “one lump or two,” not “one shovel-full or two,” or (heaven forbid,) “one packet or two!” It spins my saucer when such a basic ingredient of afternoon tea is so lightly dismissed.
Now, let me be clear. If a lovely soul hosted an afternoon tea for some loved ones, and all that was on hand was the canister of the kitchen staple known as granulated sugar, I wouldn’t criticize, I wouldn’t care. It’s the people who gather together who are important here. Char was insistent on that point.
What I can’t abide is an establishment that claims afternoon tea as a specialty, and sells it as a service and then has the gall to forego the bowl of sugar cubes (with dainty little tongs, mind you) for a rainbow assortment of sweetener packets! The mind reels.
How I adore the French obsession with their individually wrapped sugar cubes. The cube has been so elevated, so revered, that each one is lovingly placed in its own paper parcel.
Tea is meant to be enjoyed, savored. Don’t treat it as casually as a child dumping mounds of sugar on his morning puffed rice whilst watching Saturday morning cartoons (if they still exist!). Dress your tea as you dress yourself for a noteworthy occasion. If sugar is the adornment of choice, pick up the dainty, silver tongs, lift the porcelain lid from the sugar bowl, select the lump of sugar that will complete your tea to perfection.
Make it count. Choose the cube.