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Sunday, January 5, 2014

It's January, It's Cold, Let's Visit a Tearoom

Quick, what's the first thing that came to mind when you saw the word Tearoom in today's post title? Was it images of grandeur, lovely ladies in chic attire prancing down the avenue in search of refreshments? Or, was it, tea room, there's a place to stash tea that I've never heard of? OR, perhaps, it was, uh oh what's she talking about now:)

Many women of a generation or two back—and well informed ones at that—have lived and died without ever seeing the inside of a restaurant. Such a thing, in deed, as a modest wife and mother dining unattended in a public restaurant would have been considered highly improper, and would have been heralded in "The School for Scandal" as an ominous sign. But times change, and the sins of yesterday become the virtues of today. No one would think for a moment of quarrelling with the woman who skips away from household cares and punctuates her shopping tours with a friendly chat over a cup of tea. (Chicago Daily News circa 1896)

I've read that tearooms were quite the fashionable place for women to meet in days of yore. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find out much about the present day Rose Tea House pictured above. However, the 1915 issue of American Cookery Magazine does give us a glimpse into "The Coming of the Tea-House" in an article by Mary Harrod Northend.

The tea-house originated in Japan the land of cherry blossoms. They are found there at every turn, small artistic little affairs, presided over by the pretty geisha girls. In our own country the tea-houses are generally remodeled shops, barns, or farmhouses that were fast passing into decay before they took on a new lease on life. There is about them a picturesqueness which may lie with the overhanging branches of the elms that have stood guard for centuries, or it may be the weather beaten exterior that appeals.

By the 1920s, tea rooms dotted America's landscape from shore to shore. You could find them in small houses, large department stores and anywhere in between. I discovered this wonderful collage of vintage postcards of American tea rooms at a blog called Recollections of a Vagabonde in a post titled An Old-Fashioned Tea Room in Atlanta.

Most tearooms were owned and visited by women. In a time when it was widely believed "a woman's place was in the home," many women chartered the waters under the more than competent hands of Alice Bradley. In her book Cooking For Profit, first published in 1922, Ms. Bradley, former principle of Miss {Fannie} Farmer's School of Cookery, was touted as "one of the best known food experts in the country." Her detailed advice on Tea Room Management in Chapter XI of Cooking For Profit is still presently referred to.

As a matter of fact, anyone who is contemplating the world of food as a business, should consider taking a look at Ms. Bradley's book. It's available online, for free and as one commenter put it, "the advice is timeless." And, one more thing, it's filled with recipes for quantity cooking, another handy reference for entertaining, catering or starting your own pastry business! If you're so inclined, I happened upon a blog called Rosemary's Sampler where Susanna shares her enthusiasm on finding the book. From what I gather, Susanna is also the hostess of a tea room in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. There are also inviting tea room recipes.

Here are a few more pages from Cooking for Profit and Tea Room Management.

When we shared a "Dish of Tea" back in 2009, we learned of Anna Maria Stanhope, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, and her infamous contribution to the innovation of afternoon tea. I have a feeling she would be delighted to see just how far her concept has travelled.

The introduction of the tea-house has solved many perplexing household difficulties and the coming of the unexpected guest is no longer an embarrassment. One turns to the little tea-house for help, where dainty sandwiches and fancy cakes are always at hand. The popularity of the afternoon tea is responsible in a great measure for the growth of the tea-house forming a common meeting place for social life. Here congregate groups of merry girls, laughing and chatting over the tea cups while staid matrons look on approvingly. This pictures to us the importance of this institution in community life. (American Cookery Magazine, 1915)

Once again from American Cookery we have a "taste" of New England's Inns and Tea Rooms. From the Old Burnham House in Ipswich Massachusetts we have Burnham House Chocolate Cake with Soft Chocolate Frosting. And, from the Sea Gull in Marblehead Massachusetts we have Sea Gull Halibut Hash. Don't they sound delightful:)

It just wouldn't be "proper" for me to have you visit a tea room without leaving you something mysterious, pretty, and dainty to enjoy.

Have you ever heard this enchanting story about Lady Baltimore Cake?

According to legend, Owen Wister, a popular novelist best known for The Virginian, published in 1902, had been given a cake by a southern lady, a Miss Alicia Rhett Mayberry from Charleston, and he enjoyed the cake so much that he decided to write about it in a novel. Consequently, in Lady Baltimore, published in 1906, Wister wrote of a young man who enters a tea room in a southern city (modeled after Charleston), and orders his own wedding cake. The cake he chooses is called a Lady Baltimore cake, which at that time was not considered a proper wedding cake.

Aren't recipes "Magical?"

Here's the recipe for the Lady Baltimore Cake pictured above. Since I found it in the Duncan Hines Bake Shop in a Book, published in 1979, it is conveniently made with a cake mix:)

Happy National Tea Month! Louise:)

"If You Are Cold, Tea Will Warm You
If You Are Heated, It Will Cool You
If You Are Depressed, It Will Cheer You
If You Are Excited, It Will Calm You."

~William Ewart Gladstone~
British Prime Minister

Resources
1. Early African-American Tea Rooms
2. A Dish of Tea (previous post)
Duncan Hines, America’s first modern food critic and grits at the Old Southern Tea Room in Vicksburg, MS at My Carolina Kitchen.

59 comments:

  1. What a wonderful first post for me as I return to reading my favorite blogs! I used to do a tea-blog-athon for hot tea week/month/something... hmm...

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    1. I've been thinking about you Channon. So glad you stopped by and enjoyed this post. I'll be over for a visit tomorrow. I'm "dying" to see the "girls."

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  2. Dear Louise, What a wonderful post! I love tea and that cake is unbelievable. It is a perfect post as a fan of Downton Abbey, season 4 starts this evening, which is what the English do a lot of and that is have tea! The teapot is so different, I have a collection of teapots, so I have an appreciation for them.. Love all the photos as well. Your blog is so lovely and so full of information. Thanks for sharing your books and your talent. Blessings, Dottie :) BTW I have sent you 2 emails, I know that you are busy. Just wanted to let you know! :)

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    1. Everyone keeps telling me I should watch that show, Dottie. I'm not much of a TV watcher but I do think this season I will give it a "go." I call that teapot my Genie pot. I rarely use it:) Things have finally quieted down around here. It's been a couple of crazy days around here! I haven't even checked my email in days. I better get to it, lol...So glad you enjoyed your visit:)

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  3. Indeed, on Downton Abbey tonight Lady Edith, dining in a restaurant with her unsuitable suitor, remarks that her parents would never allow the family to eat "in public" except perhaps in a hotel. I thought of that when reading this wonderful post!

    And on another subject -- we used to go to a lovely bakery with a tea room near the zoo in Washington, DC, that made both Lady Baltimore and Lord Baltimore cakes. They made a single-portion version, thus different from the one you depicted.

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    1. I'm really got to have check out that show, Mae. I considered including a recipe for Lord Baltimore cake too but I wanted to find out a bit more about it before I included it. Now, I'm going to have to check out this combination you mention.

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  4. Such a wonderful post.. Enjoyed reading it. First time here.. You have a lovely space with lots of good information.

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    1. Hi Gloria and welcome!!! Thank you so much for dropping by. Pop in any time. I visited your blog and I must say, that Marzipan cake of yours is gorgeous!!!

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  5. Downton Abbey has been a huge hit in the UK but it now seems to be less popular. Like most popular shows or films they fade away with time. Indeed it is really well made, worth watching and so British and gentile.
    In England people drink so much tea and I have picked this habit too. If I have the same tea in Italy it would never taste the same. It is a treat to have a hot cup of tea with cake!
    A very interesting post Louise! Happy new year!

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    1. All this talk about Downton Abbey now has me curious, Alida. I'll need to watch it at least once, lol...I drink both tea and coffee. Each has it's own purpose in my day:)

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  6. You find the most interesting things! This is such a fun post. I've heard of Lady Baltimore cake, but never read it. And I watched the first episode of the current Downton Abbey series last night, and like Mae Travels immediately thought of Lady Edith's comment on eating in public when I read the opening to your post. Are you an Amazon Prime subscriber? I believe you can stream past season of the show for free if you are. Anyway, fun post - thanks.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post, John. I was wondering how the "men" visitors would react. Times have changed!!! Yes, Lady Baltimore Cake seems to have a complicated past but, all agree it is worth enjoying. My daughter tells me I should check Netflix for the past seasons of Downton Abbey. If not, like you say, there's always Amazon!

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  7. Hi Louise,
    Such an interesting post! I would really love to visit any one of the tea-rooms!

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    1. Aren't they "darling" Joyce. I wouldn't mind an afternoon tea at anyone of them. And a bit of shopping, of course:)

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  8. I have never visited a tea room because I do not like tea, but I have to say the experience has always looked very interesting. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. You can also get coffee at some tea rooms, Lady Lilith. It wasn't always that way though:) It's well worth the experience if you ever get the chance:)

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  9. I thought of grand tea houses when I read your title. This was so entertaining. Scandalous, I tell you! LOL Love that tea pot. It looks definitely like a magic lantern. Thanks for posting these menus too. They always fascinate me.

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    1. It sure was FUN, Debra. Scandalous indeed! I have managed to accumulate an array of teapots through the years. I thought this one was just perfect for this post. it is the prettiest color pink too:)

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  10. What a lovely post. My first official tea was at Harrods in London in 1987 on my first trip there. I loved it! A couple of years ago I hosted a winter afternoon tea (http://lindaathompson.blogspot.com/2012/02/winter-afternoon-tea.html) that was such a treat that I'm thinking of doing it again to cheer up the chilly winter. Thanks for the menus and recipes that I can use for inspiration!

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    1. Oh to have tea at Harrods, Linda...I'm so glad you left that link. It looks like you had a wonderful afternoon tea to chase those winter blues way. And those Cheese Scones, oh my...However, it's that Harrods book I covet. I haven't seen it in ages. Thanks, Linda!

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  11. Your blog is just lovely. New and old. Beautiful images and memories! And this cake? Well, I want a slice just about now. Perfect for a cold day. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. You are too kind, Monet. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. The latchstring is always out:)

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  12. Fun, fun, FUN post! The first thing I thought of when I read "Tearoom" was visiting Sally Lunn's in Bath, Engand where I had cream tea and a Sally Lunn Bun.

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  13. Tea month? Perfect for January! Too cold to go hunt for a lovely tea room, but I'll brew my own cup at home till the temps break 0º. Wish I had a slice of Lady Baltimore cake to go with it :)

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    1. Personally, Liz, I think January should be World Tea Month!!! Lady Baltimore Cake would be just right about now!

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  14. Hi Louise , what a wonderful post and the history behind the tearooms is so fascinating . The tearooms have a log history behind them and most people just take them for granted :D . We have a very nice tearoom in the Eldorado Hotel /Casino and it's a must stop for all the guests , especially the ladies and some men [giggling] . Your 'Genie' teapot I so lovely , the Lady Baltimore cake is to gorgeous . My older sister makes the 'LB' cake and adds a package of dream whip , it tastes homemade ... she started using 'DW' in cake mixes years ago , the Dream whip boxes have the recipe on the box for cakes / pies . Hope your new year is getting off to a good start , but stay warm , tell Marion to stay inside , it will warm up soon and (((HUGS))) to her . I will be emailing you when things settle down . Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. We always have Dream Whip in the house, Nee. We LOVE it especially on Jell-O! One day I will be returning the casinos down there. I sure will be asking you about the Eldorado! Marion is nice and warm. She wanted to go out today but I advised her against it and then she saw a show on TV that said elderly people were better off staying home. Whew! Thank goodness:)

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  15. What lovely and adorable post dear Louise and what amazing Tea rooms I love them!!
    Nice post:)

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    1. I thought you might enjoy this post Gloria. I know how you love tea!

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  16. Tea is a wonderful beverage to warm up with or just to relax and take a break from the day. My girls and I go to a lovely tea room here in Albuquerque, "The St. James Tearoom" that fits the requisites of managing a tea room to a tea.

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    1. You mean when I was in Albuquerque I missed a tea room. Oh no! Sounds like a reason to revisit, lol...Thanks for stopping by Geraldine...

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  17. I want a cup of tea right about now. it's cold out and after reading your post I want to go home and make tea!

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    1. I have my afternoon tea sitting right by me Debbie. Want some???

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  18. Dear Louise, I loved reading about the tea rooms. I remember my mother mentioning the Fanny Farmer recipes. When my daughter was little she loved to have "tea time" . I miss it.
    Thank you for your wonderful posts and all the time and effort you put in. I always want to try all the recipes you find. They look so inviting. Blessings dear and always prayers. Catherine xo

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    1. When my granddaughter was little we use to have "play" tea all the time. I miss it also, Catherine. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post, Catherine. Prayers are always welcome:)

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  19. Aww! I always wanted to go to a tea room!

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    1. Then go you should, duckie. Just think of the stories you could tell:)

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  20. what better way to warm things up than head for a cozy tea room and enjoy a slice of that perfectly glorious chocolate cake....we are missing this now,thanks :-)

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    1. Just perfect, don't you think Kumar:)

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  21. I imagined elegant ladies sitting around drinking tea out of dainty looking teacups:D I think I am not far off after reading your post:) Would love to bake that Lady Baltimore cake but I am afraid I will make a mess on the frosting!:P

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    1. I'm so glad, Jeannie. I think you should give it a try anyway. Messy frosting is fine by me. Although, I'm sure it wouldn't be in a tearoom, lol...

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  22. hi louise, nice post ! enjoy reading about the lady baltimore cake and ...women those days not supposed to dine in public? gosh..the postcards are really nice and thanks for the link given , i'm saving them as well! no tearoom here as far as i know...the closest concept probably is what we call cafe here.

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    1. Some of those old fashioned rules are so funny aren't they Lena? I'm surprised you don't have a tearoom near by. Come here and we'll go find some! One that serves Lady Baltimore Cake!

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  23. Louise, that Lady Baltimore cake is bewitching my sweet tooth! The Burnham House chocolate has my attention too. Last month we had so many sweets at work that it was overload but I think I could manage a thin slice with tea this afternoon. Happy new year to you!

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    1. I would love to get my fingers on the Lady Baltimore Cake, Tina. I really think you should bake one and invite us over. Or, at least me. We could enjoy that Florida sun, sip some tea and eat cake!

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  24. I love a good tea room - particulary in the UK but sometimes here in australia too - I don't think of them being particularly American so this post is very interesting and that cake is so pretty - I think I would like to write a novel about cake but writing a blog post is usually as much as I have time for :-)

    Belated happy new year - hope 2014 is shaping up well for you

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    1. A novel about cake, now there's a thought Johanna. I think you should GO for it!

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  25. I did not have an image, I was just happy to see tearoom. Great post. Clarice

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    1. Thanks Clarice. So glad you enjoyed it:)

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  26. Nice article, but it is Nancy that runs the tearoom in Mechanicsburg, PA. Her sister, Susanna, runs a herb shop next door.

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    1. Thank you so much for that bit of info, Marilyn. I will be fixing it ASAP. Drop by anytime:)

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  27. Great post! I shared it on my FB page :) Denise@Madisteagarden

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    1. Thank you Denise, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I am not on FB. I do appreciate you sharing this post. Pop by anytime!

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  28. Your post was an enjoyable read as I love tea rooms so very much. Each one is such a unique and fun discovery, and learning a little about the history of tearooms makes them all the more interesting. And it was such fun to see a link to Rosemary's Sampler in your post! I love that little book Cooking for Profit, particularly the chapter on Tea Room Management! Thanks for sharing! Nancy

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    1. Hi Nancy!

      Thank you so much for visiting. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. I've been meaning to drop by to thank you for the Rosemary's Sampler link. It was just perfect for this post and I truly appreciate you sharing...If ever I am in Mechanicsburg again, I will be sure and find your lovely tearoom.

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  29. I am so loopy I missed you mentioned Nancy's tea room (she is a friend) and I am hoping to visit her tea room one day. Thank you for sharing it. Clarice

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  30. Nancy has a wonderful tea room! http://www.sweetremembrancestearoom.com/

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  31. Louise, I love your teapot. I just HAD to find it. It is very elegant. Love reading about the tearooms and the Lady Baltimore cake. We have many in Savannah and I have frequented most.
    xoGinger

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Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise