September 16, 2013

Tea...and haggis?

Tea and I go way back (wayyyy back!)  I have jokingly remarked before that I think in the South babies graduate from formula to sweet tea in their bottles.  I can remember sitting on the piano bench with my other cousins at my grandparents' home for Sunday dinner and watching Grandma ladle sweet tea over glasses filled to the brim with ice.  It was delicious.

Celebrating my grandfather's 80th birthday...cake and TEA
My dad loved the way my mother made sweet tea so that became the de facto drink at our home growing up.  I didn't become a coffee drinker until grad school, so staying alert during college meant lots of Coke and cup after cup of hot tea.  My all-nighter comfort food was inevitably a hot cup of tea with cinnamon-sugar toast...just the thing to keep the creative juices flowing at two in the morning!

This picture from my freshman year of college cracks me up.  Let's see...what dates it the most?  The Holly Hobbie calendar, the manual typewriter or the dial telephone?  Note the can on the desk...I was never without Coke or tea!
On any given work day, you'll find me sitting in my cubicle sipping English Breakfast or Lady Jane Grey, probably with a lemon biscotti perched on the side of the saucer.  And on weekends I love to use one of my lovely teapots for an extra fillip of graciousness in my living room.  Even if I am alone, I love to lay out a lovely linen napkin and use a special tea cup. I may be a bit of a tea mugs allowed, only china cups!

So now that I've established my passion for tea (as if my blog title wasn't enough), I thought it might be fun to focus on a few extra favorite tea memories this week.  And if we are talking tea, where better to start than in the United Kingdom?  I discovered Tetley tea, served in a lovely silver teapot, at the bed and breakfast we stayed in outside Edinburgh, Scotland.

The flavor was perfect first thing in the morning, accompanied by scones and eggs and sausages, as well as fried tomatoes and haggis.  There was also a sideboard of cereal and fruit, for those less adventurous travelers.
 Breakfast buffet
 I can't say I enjoyed the haggis although I tried very hard to not be an ugly American tourist (like the other group staying there!) but I certainly enjoyed this lovely tea.  And of course sipping it while relaxing in the beautiful conservatory made it even nicer!
Looking out at the garden
Looking back at the breakfast conservatory on the right. It overlooks the walled garden, and beyond the garden is the Firth of Forth.

View from the walled garden at sunset
We could also enjoy piping hot tea in our room after a brisk walk around the neighborhood.  Although my husband will be quick to point out that his favorite warm-me-up beverage was the sherry and shortbread thoughtfully laid out by our hostess!
Tea tray
My favorite...

and his favorite!  Really, you couldn't go wrong with either choice...

And since we are in Scotland today, we might as well start the day off with Robert Burns, don't you think?  Here's a poem that waxes lyrical about that rather prosaic Scots dish of haggis. If you would like to read the "English" translation of the poem you can find it here.  Tomorrow we will travel south to London, and have tea in a very special place with extra special memories. 

 Until then, have a wonderful day!

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o' need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An' cut ye up wi' ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they strech an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve,
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
'Bethankit!' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro' bluidy flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An' legs, an' arms, an' heads will sned,
Like taps o' thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o 'fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a Haggis! 

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