Thursday, February 01, 2007

A spot of rationing

In the afternoons, I like to brew a cup of tea and have it with a biscuit--that's a cookie here, not one of those God-awful doughy things called biscuits that looks like an English tea scone (though not in taste) which one can buy together with a bucket of fried chicken at KFC and other places and is regarded as a deliciously Southern thing. I hate Grits and I hate Southern biscuits.

Coffee is my preferred beverage in the morning--not the weak American blends that are flogged by Maxwell House and Folgers--good strong blends like Pilon, which is Puerto Rican and tastes rather like Italian coffee. I've even been known to mix the Pilon with the mass-marketed stuff to improve it.

I am just as fussy about my tea. It must be a British blend, something like English breakfast or the more smokey tasting Irish breakfast blend. But my fussiness does not end there. The tea must actually come from Britain or Ireland. I cannot abide what masquerades as tea on the supermarket shelves in the United States. No matter how long it's brewed, it never seems to break through the 'dishwater' barrier. It looks sickly no matter how pretty the teacup it's in. It's flavorless on a bad day, tinny on a good. That the tea over here is not good is quite understandable because Americans are not a tea-drinking nation--though Larry has informed me that coffee was once offered as a freebie to American housewives who bought a packet of tea.

This afternoon I noticed my 'tea tin' in the cupboard contained only two more bags and so I went into the pantry to retrieve more from the Tetley 'self-closing' packet (the glue on the red tab device is poorly designed and so it doesn't close as stated) I'd brought back from Northern Ireland. There were only ten left. A chill ran through my heart.

This weekend when I speak to Mum I'll have to ask her to send me over a care package chop-chop. Also must remember to tell her to write 'professional sample' or 'book' on the package or I'll get stuck with ridiculous import charges, which will spoil enjoyment of exported tea because I will remember as I indulge. The other alternative, of course, is to go to one of those pseudo Brit shops they have over here where they sell things like sausages, bacon, steak and kidney pie, pork pie, Cornish pasties, shortbread, Hartley's jams, lemon curd and Digestive biscuits, most of which are in various stages of fossilization or moldy as a good Stilton because no self-respecting ex-pat is going to fork out eight dollars for a jar of marmalade or packet of McVities biscuits that they can get for a quid over there.

Oh, what to do...what to do. Must go. Kettle's boiling.


Dorothea said...

Hi Damian,
The way you describe this, I can almost smell the tea, and now have a craving for tea and cookies.
Where can one buy Pilon coffee?

Jessica said...

Hi Damian,
I work at Tetley USA and would LOVE for your to try our exceptional tea! Can you provide me with an address to send you some of our fine British teas?

Damian McNicholl said...

Dorothea, you should find it in the Hispanic section of any good supermarket in the US. Also in any supermarket in NYC--definitely in the Bronx. Use a drip filter.Make it strong. Then pour one quarter cup of coffee and fill the cup with hot milk. That's how the Puerto Ricans drink it.
Enjoy it when yo get around to trying it.

Carol Gee said...

All this and you're a writer, too! Thanks for this "dessert" of a post.