Sunday, June 08, 2008

Tea Time


I'm really enjoying Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I'm doing a lot of agreeing head nodding in some parts, thinking "yeah but..." in others. The story (nonfiction) is about how their family spent a year eating as much as possible from locally grown food sources. I find that I've done or attempted most of the things that they've discussed so far in the book - growing my own, putting foods up, cooking from scratch, farmer's markets, using local farms, eating by season.

I feel both smug and guilty in equal parts for all the years I've been doing the "right thing" and all the things I'm still nowhere near where I'd like to be in my buying/cooking/eating style currently, especially where things I've done a lot of backsliding on. I have a long way to get myself back to "the garden" (isn't that an old Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young line?) both figuratively and symbolically.

It's that old problem of having one's eyes opened to a problem and trying to be conscientious in addressing/solving it. The more you learn, the higher your expectations of yourself. The more you try, the more it seems is expected of you, while those who don't realize the problem exists, or don't care if the problem exists, go merrily along without a worry. Still, I'm determined to get to a more comfortable place with my food choices.

Maybe not today though. My recent headaches have morphed into a lovely case of vertigo so I'm just laying on the bed trying not to be dizzy, drinking tea and eating red licorice sticks. Probably can't claim either of those things are organic or locally grown.

Which brings me to why the title of this post is Tea Time. Maybe she'll address it in her book in some chapter I haven't read yet, but I'm thinking of things like coffee and tea that make up 90% of our family's beverage choices. We can make more of an effort (or rather, make an effort again, we used to buy exclusively from certain companies) to buy organic teas and coffees where the profits go directly to small time growers. That's a step in the right direction. But there's no way to find local coffee or tea. Or certain kinds of spices. Or specialty foods that are grown for International trade. I'm not talking about buying my bread from France instead of the local bakery (well, except we don't have a local bakery, really) but items that are specific to certain parts of the world. I can learn to eat strawberries and apples and less bananas and mangos, but give up my tea? Yikes!

I was just thinking about my purist, health food days - long, long ago B.C. (before children) and remembering how the proper thing to do was drink herbal teas (extra points if you grew the herbs yourself) and coffee alternatives like dried chicory. I could go back to such those choices but.... uhm...... well, dammit, I don't want to! I love my teas. I could probably give up coffee. Maybe. But black tea and me, we've got this groovy little thing going on called Love. Yes we do. There has to be a way to be both a responsible, local food grower and eater and still leave room for some international good will and culinary exchange. I'll have to think on that some. And keep reading.

In the meanwhile, I forgot to show you the lovely gift my mother brought me when she came to visit last month. Unfortunately it's not a great shot, the detail isn't clear, but you can get an idea.

Isn't it pretty! Sort of like a chintz pattern. I don't know, maybe it is considered a type of chintz. I've always wanted a chintz china teapot. This one has little flowers and birds with a bird handle on the lid. The photo makes the teapot look small for some reason. It's not. It's probably considered a six cup pot. I made a pot of mango ceylon tea in it yesterday, wrapped it in a towel, got four cups of hot tea from in this cup, and still had a big glass of tea leftover to put in the refrigerator for iced tea today.


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