Are You A Square?

Personally, I am a triangle.

I am, of course, talking about the best shape for a cucumber sandwich.

I have just returned from a delightful tea party in America. A tray came past me: cucumber sandwiches. I seized. I nibbled. I stopped. What was that foreign taste? I folded back the perfectly sliced bread. Chopped mint. Mint? Pure shock to my English taste buds.

As so many of our Get Togethers revolve around an English tea party, we might want to ensure the Englishness of the several parts – the cucumber sandwiches, the tea, the cake, the China tea set….

So what does make the perfect cucumber sandwich perfect?

It is imperative we avoid soggy bread, or slippery, slimy, unseasoned cucumber. And, at all costs, we must eschew a hideous hint of margarine. That’s for sure.

And all crusts are off.

It must be white bread. Just your average sliced white. Soft, not trendy-artisan-rough.

It must be butter (not only essential for taste but it is the genius insider tip that lets you buffer any remaining cucumber juices from the bread). Now is not the time to get all skinny on me.

So, remove most of the dampness from the cucumber. In Downton Abbey’s kitchens you would salt your slices for about 15 minutes before you assemble. But, who on earth has time for that? Shortcut: press slices between kitchen paper towel and then salt them to taste.

Oh yes, and you should peel your cucumber first.

Butter your bread and remove the crusts.

Now put it all together – you won’t need more salt to season it but you will need pepper – and it should be white pepper, not black.

And there you have it – although you must partner it with the perfect cup of tea.

Oh… and you may prefer to cut them into fingers rather than triangles.

Yes, the many debates over afternoon tea preparation rage on behind English curtains…

And don’t worry if you are a square, I wont tell anyone.

2 thoughts on “Are You A Square?”

  1. India, when I was very, very young I thought I would help my mother by making the cucumber sandwiches for her afternoon tea. I did just about everything you say not to: didn’t peel the cucumber, slathered on the margarine, didn’t cut the crusts, and who knew about salt? My mother nearly fainted; her guests gamley slogged their way through a teeny portion. I have never made them since. These things can scar you for life …

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