"Something on a Tray" by Noel Coward + Oatmeal Zucchini Cookies

There's a scene in My Fair Lady when Henry Higgins sings about all the ways English citizens are incapable of speaking their own language. It's a catchy, rhythmic tune, and one of the first thoughts that popped into my head after reading this poem. It turns out that my association wasn't too far off, because "Something on a Tray" was actually a number in the musical "After the Ball" that made its debut in London in 1954.

The second thought? London. I saw My Fair Lady for the first time 10 years ago on stage in Covent Garden, on a rainy day in October. I went by myself, taking the buses and hopping off with my umbrella in tow. Oh, to be a student again!

Something on a Tray

by Noël Coward

Advancing years may bring about
A rather sweet nostalgia
In spite of rheumatism and gout
And, certainly, neuralgia.
And so, when we have churned our way
Through luncheon and a matinée,
We gratefully to bed retire
To rest our aching, creaking vertebrae
And have a little something on a tray.

Some ageing ladies with a groan
Renounce all beauty lotions,
They dab their brows with eau-de-Cologne
And turn to their devotions,
We face the process of decay
Attired in a négligé
And with hot bottles at our toes
We cosily in bed repose
Enjoying, in a rather languid way,
A little 'eggy' something on a tray.

Advancing years that many dread
Still have their compensations,
We turn when youth and passion have fled
To more sedate sensations,
And when we've fought our weary way
Through some exhausting social day
We thankfully to bed retire
With pleasant book and crackling fire
And, like Salome in a bygone day,
Enjoy a little something on a tray.

When weary from the fray
Something on a tray
Sends weariness away,
Something on a tray,
Thank God, thank God we say,
For something on a tray.

The poem is whimsical and funny, ideal for being brought to life on a theatrical stage, but I also appreciate the subtle emotion like "advancing years may bring about/ a rather sweet nostalgia." This line is perhaps the most sentimental, only to be followed by refernces to the glorious diseases and ailments of old age, but there is certainly a truth spoken in the poem's opening. Nostalgia appears at every stage of life, I think. So make some tea, cookies, and reminisce on some sweet memories.


I don't remember what I was looking for when I came across this recipe, but I liked the idea of combining an oatmeal cookie with vegetables. It's quite like zucchini bread, actually. To increase the health factor, I used whole wheat flour, and coconut oil instead of butter.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Sea salt
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 to 1 cup finally grated zucchini
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt into a small bowl. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the coconut oil and sugars until well combined. (The oil will not beat up fluffy like butter, so just beat for a minute or so, until everything is well mixed).

On a low speed, add the egg and beat until just combined; add the vanilla. Gently pour in the dry ingredients. Add the zucchini, oats, and walnuts. Refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes to 1 hour. While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using an ice-cream scoop, drop dough onto a silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake until edges are golden, about 17 minutes. let cool on a wire rack.