The other night at a dinner someone brought up the upcoming Royal Wedding, and not in a giddy, excited way but more as an afterthought, like “Isn’t the wedding next Friday? “Oh yeah,” I realized, “I haven’t thought about it at all.” My friend Nancy chimed in with, “I didn’t care about his mother’s wedding and I don’t care about his.” Which was kind of funny since Nancy’s hair has reminded me of Princess Di’s ever since I met her in 1983.
But it was true. I really hadn’t paid the least bit of attention to the hoopla. Not because I have any ill will towards the bride and groom but really, who cares? Okay, I was kind of moved when they released their engagement photo simply because they looked so in love and so, well, hopeful. And I tried not to be cynical in looking to Prince William’s father, aunt and uncle in predicting the outcome of his tying the knot with Kate.
I have rarely touched on the subject of weddings on this virtual page for fear that any antipathy on my singleton part towards the business of getting married will be seen as my masticating on a mouthful of sour grapes. Not so. I wasn’t one of those little girls who ever thought about her wedding. I was always suspicious of fairy tales, didn’t dress up as Cinderella and I never taped a square of toilet paper to Barbie’s head to force her to marry poor, neutered Ken. I wasn’t even a guest at a wedding until I was 24 (see above friend Nancy and her marriage to the perfect Scott). And although I will treasure my memories of that first celebration (the wild cousin in a silver sequined micro-mini dress whose inebriated shimmies resulted in multiple spills on the dance floor comes to mind) most of the weddings I’ve attended have barely registered on my brain. Really, unless you are in the inner circle of the bride and groom, or something so tear-jerking or embarrassing happens, weddings tend to run together in a five-hour blur of seating assignments, feeling like you have to include the one sad person sitting at your table whom neither you nor the pals you are seated with knows, lame toasts and lamer food.
There was a year in my life when my then boyfriend and I spent way too many weekends flying to medium-sized cities to attend the weddings of medium-close friends. And the way that I remember them is really kind of awful. St. Louis was the one where the luggage of one of his female friends got lost en route from Hong Kong and she yelled at the concierge at the Ritz-Carlton as if he’d been personally responsible for sending it to destinations unknown. After which she dragged me to Neiman Marcus to buy a replacement cocktail dress and hissed, “They’d better have Oscar De La Renta!” assuming we were somehow in this together and I would appreciate the emergency need for a $2,000 dress. Atlanta was the one where we found a hotel notepad in the bedside table covered in the chicken scratch of a man on a mission; “Amber, blond, $350, Britnee, redhead, $275,” and in Boston I spent the five hours subtly hiking up my strapless bra every two minutes to prevent it from becoming a belt. As you can see, I have no memories of the actual weddings at all. Now, to be clear, these were the nuptials of people with whom I had a tenuous connection. Of course when it comes to my dear friends their celebrations have meant quite a lot to me, but really how many are we talking about? A half-dozen? And so it would follow that because I don’t know Will or Kate I’m not really going to care.
Not so fast.
After communicating my indifference with a shrug on Saturday night I turned on CBS Sunday Morning just as their segment on the wedding began. Standing with my cup of coffee I found myself slowly taking a seat on the couch, mesmerized by montages of pomp and circumstance, curling my legs under me and getting completely sucked in by the majesty of it all, the history of royal family weddings, that still of William and Kate sharing what seems like a real laugh and, of course, the video from that truly sad day when the young princes walked behind their mother’s casket.
Oh no! I was slipping and there wasn’t anything I could do. I cared. Who was she going to wear? What were they going to serve at the breakfast? How many cakes?! But I also thought about Diana’s senseless death, and the burden that life as a royal has placed on the shoulders of her sons, and about how this young, gorgeous couple should of course be filled with hope. I love that they’ve known each other for so long and I love that they crack each other up. You can’t fake that kind of relaxed connection and genuine intimacy. They seem so normal, within the abnormal context of their rarefied lives.
Unlike the women profiled in Bethany Kandel’s piece in the Times last Sunday, (if you missed it you must read it and gag) I will not be hosting a breakfast viewing party, handing out party tiaras to a gaggle of female friends, or encouraging my sister to pull my nieces out of school in order to have a bonding experience based on shoving the Prince Charming myth down their innocent throats. No, I will DVR the wedding (the networks’ coverage begins at 4AM but for a more authentic twist BBC-America is broadcasting from 6AM-2PM!), curl up with a cup of tea and sink my fork into Nigella’s deliciously almondy, buttery, jammy riff on the old fashioned British pudding, the Bramwell tart. I will then wish Will and Kate well and, as with all weddings, the party will be over and it’s back to real life. We all know there’s no such thing as fairy tales.
Giving in to the Royal Wedding Bakewell Bars
Adapted from Feast: Food to Celebrate Life, by Nigella Lawson, 2004
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1 1/2 cups + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces
1 1/3 sticks (10 2/3 tablespoons) butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups ground almonds (I used blanched)
2/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1 cup raspberry preserves or favorite jam
Place cookie sheet into oven and preheat to 350. Line a 12 1/4" x 8 1/4" x 2" pan with foil, set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse flour, powdered sugar and salt just to combine. Add butter and pulse until crumbly.Dump onto foil lined pan and push dough until you have covered bottom of the pan, using a sheet of wax paper to help guide the sticky dough is very helpful.Wash processor work bowl & blade, you will need them again.
Bake for 20 minutes until pale golden. Leave oven on.
While crust is baking, melt butter and set aside.
In bowl of food processor pulse eggs, sugar, and ground almonds.Keep work bowl on processor.
When crust has baked for above 20 minutes, remove and allow to cool for three minutes.
Spread jam onto crust.Switch processor on and pour melted butter down the chute until combined.
Pour butter mixture onto jam lined base. Top with sliced almonds.
Bake for 35 minutes. It will be dark, golden brown.
Yield: Cut into bars or squares, your choice. However, you know how much butter is in these rich treats so to be kind to yourself and your friends, cut into 24 squares and have just one.