AFTERNOON TEA, A DUBAI FAVOURITE
What could be nicer than a traditional afternoon tea accompanied by music from a harp? Harpists like myself often play at afternoon tea in Dubai hotels and it is often a very special and sophisticated occasion.
Afternoon tea is a great microcosm of UAE society with people from all walks of life coming along to enjoy the great hospitality and meet up with friends and family. I love to watch everyone enjoying themselves, but of course, I give most of my attention to playing the harp.
Afternoon tea is of course a British tradition, and in the 21st century it is one of pure indulgence, as it is not really a necessary meal due to the fact that most people nowadays eat three meals per day. When the tradition was begun, by Anna, seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the early 1800s, most people only ate two meals per day – one in the morning and one in the evening.
The Duchess described herself as “having that sinking feeling” in the mid to late afternoon, and felt the best way to solve the problem was to take tea and a light snack, preferably in her boudoir, and often in the company of other ladies, and thus the tradition of afternoon tea was born.
To this day, you can see the Duchess’s influence on the occasion, in the delicate little cakes and tiny finger sandwiches that are served, it is meant to be a light, treat of a meal, to keep away the hunger pangs but not fill you up before your main meal in the evening.
The meal is at least 75 per cent about the company and the conversation, so while the harp is an important part of the experience for those who go to afternoon tea in Dubai, it is important for a harpist to strike the right balance between playing something the afternoon tea drinkers will want to hear without being too obtrusive.
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