The world loves a lover, and it is not exactly opposed to a bit of pomp and circumstance, which is why two friends have decided to give a party for Prince Charles and Lady Di.
The couple have not accepted, of course, though undoubtedly they would love to come. In a little more than a week's time they will be taking that momentous walk up the aisle of St. Paul's Cathedral.
But if the Royals must miss this one celebration in their honor, everyone else can enjoy it. The invitation to the garden party reads, "Dress Brit," a command that has the ladies looking for the most outrageously bedecked hats -- the hostess claims to possess a wide-brimmed wonder with a stuffed bird on top -- and at least one gentleman rooting around in a trunk for a pair of plus fours.
To keep the wine (which will naturally be afloat with strawberries) chilled, they plan to place the punch bowls between blocks of ice on the picnic table, where the run-off can drip onto the grass below, providing an authentically damp English lawn.
The food will be traditional garden-party tea sandwiches: papery thin slices of cucumber of a handful of peppery, chopped watercress spread on slices of buttered white bread which has been trimmed of its crust and cut into triangular shapes; bit-sized pieces of chicken breast mixed with mayonnaise and chives and spread onto whole wheat bread; garden tomatoes sprinkled with salt and pepper and shredded basil on a chewy brown bread.
In addition there will be baskets of scones and pots of marmalade. They may even break open the commemorative jar of Prince Charles/Lady Diana jam that someone brought them from London.
There will be platters of tarts, the shells (baked in a muffin tin) just big enough to hold a few strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or a spoonful of lemon curd, and next to them a chilled bowl of whipped cream to ladle on top.
And, of course, there will be a summer pudding (directions below ) made with blackberries, decorated with rose petals which have been dipped first in egg white and then in sugar (slip off the white end; it's bitter) and served with Devonshire cream (available at the P Street Store, 2120 P St. NW).
For summer pudding, stew 1 1/4 pounds blackberries with 1/4 pound of sugar for about 5 minutes. Leave to cool. Line a souffle dish or a small loaf pan with day-old white bread from which the crust has been removed. Line the dish completely, leaving no gaps between the slices. When the bottom and sides are completely covered with the bread, fill the dish up with the stewed fruit, reserving a bit of juice. Top the fruit with more slices of bread, making sure it's completely covered; put a plate on top of the pudding, weighted with something to keep the pudding pressed down.
Chill overnight. When ready to serve, unmold onto a plate, pour the reserved juices on top, slice and top each serving with the cream. These proportions serve four, and it's probably better to make several than to expand it too much.