Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Deck the Food Hall

(Click to enlarge.)

Roz Chast's illustrations of domestic desperation are like hand grenades with fool-proof pins. There's TNT in there but it never goes right off. Her characters keep a lid on it somehow.

Satire or reality? My mother has every one of those teas. Not that she's a foodie: far from it. People keep giving them to her. 'Gourmet' teas seem to have achieved a kind of exotic attraction beyond their actual composition and have become the default gift - like aromatherapy kits about twenty years ago - for old ladies who have, or have had, everything. My mother's tea collection sits at one end of the kitchen bench, in a corner near the stove. The tea, loose or in bags, is in tins with lids, tins without lids, spilling out of opened boxes, packed in unopened boxes, piled up in wicker baskets and just laying loose, a tea mountain which occasionally collapses with outcrops of organic, fair trade, single estate, sustainable, ethical and socially responsible caramel-flavoured tea crashing down like miniature avalanches.

Every time my mother puts on the kettle for a visitor - including family members - she offers the entire checklist of flavoured teas, even though you have told her a hundred times all you want is ordinary black tea with milk and two sugars, as you have for the last forty years.

The boxes, of course, are flammable, and the dry tea probably is as well. One day the kitchen will go up in flames, and West Essendon will be shrouded in Earl Grey, English Lunch and Bunny tea smoke. It will be a very civilised fire.


Happy Christmas shopping. The above scene is being enacted in millions of stores right now all over the world.

1 comment:

Dr. Alice said...

I heartily agree, ordinary black tea is the way to go. I would quote an American columnist, James Lileks, who said something like "Hazelnut flavored coffee is like saying 'goat flavored shrimp.'" In other words, there IS a flavor. It doesn't need another one.

And let me just add, Merry Christmas to you and yours.