Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sympathy for Tea

I admit it, when I read a good book I am influenced by what is being served to drink and eat. I first noticed it when I read a Miss Read book based on Thrush Green, an imaginary English village, where her answer to everything was to make a pot of tea, pull out the biscuit tin and enjoy. I went through many cups of tea reading that series one long, cold winter.

Anyone who read Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes can understand that when his father comes home, on his rare visits, it is tea he asks for. Good Irish Breakfast tea with milk. It warms the soul.

Who could read Isak Dineson’s Out of Africa without purchasing a Kenya coffee just to experience a little of her world?

Recently I read Alexander McCall Smith’s series which starts with The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency set in Botswana. Tea makes the detective’s world go around, not just any British tea, but true Botswanian Bush Tea. Imagine to my surprise that even in Santa Fe you can purchase Botswanian Bush Red Tea. At Kaune’s, of course. I have now had the pleasure of several pots of the herb infused tea and can understand how as Mma Precious Ramtoswe says, it is best for contemplation and conversation. Much more satisfying than ordinary British tea.

There are many mystery writers who focus on tea and food—often laced with poison. Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs will tell you more about tea and tea mixing than you ever want to know—her heroine runs a tea room and sells tea. Then there is Death by Chocolate by G.A. McKevett and of course all of the Diane Mott Davidson mysteries from Killer Pancake to Double Shot. The food mystery writer with the best credentials is Lou Jane Temple, a Kansas City caterer and food and wine critic. Her clever titles include Bread on Arrival and Red Beans and Vice. She includes recipes in her books—not the poisoned recipes, just regular recipes that are prepared or served by the characters in the novels.

But it is tea that draws me in and makes me want to put the kettle on. Bush tea anyone?

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