A Little History and a Lot of Flavor
I was in my grandmother’s kitchen one Sunday morning thinking to myself, why did I agree to do this? I was hunched over the counter, attempting to slice both bread and a cucumber while also mixing this strange concoction of mayonnaise and salad dressing as a spread…for cucumber sandwiches? What are we, British dignitaries? Well, no, but grandma wanted to impress her friends and have a “high tea” themed book club to go along with their discussion of Pride and Prejudice. So of course, for grandma, I obliged and mixed and sliced away.
Little did I know at the time, but high tea and cucumber sandwiches actually have a very interesting history. With summer in high gear and the temperatures rising, I thought this would be a good time to shed some light on the refreshing little treat.
I’m just going to start by establishing that I wasn’t too thrilled to be working so painstakingly on these miniature sandwiches, but before I left grandma’s all I could say is, way to go England! I was surprisingly pleased with the way my cucumber sandwiches turned out and excited to find out more.
After I put so much effort into the intricate details of making these sandwiches, I wanted to learn more about them and I found out that they can actually be traced all the way back to 1870! British settlers in India were trying to find a way to cope with the heat and apparently cucumbers helped. Then, in the Victorian Era (1837-1901), cucumber sandwiches became a staple of afternoon tea.
Now I will say, the British never put any spreads on their cucumber sandwiches, but it’s definitely the way to go. The spread was a wholly American addition and is called Benedictine. It can be made in several different ways and if you go searching for a recipe you’ll find tons of different variations, but it usually consists of cream cheese and some assortment of spices or herbs. Here is a cucumber sandwich recipe that calls for dry Italian salad dressing to add flavor.
Get a taste of British royalty and impress your friends with cucumber sandwiches and afternoon tea. Cheers!
Check here for more information on the history of the cucumber sandwich from the Telegraph.