Food for Thought-Jane Austen’s Tea

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My day began several months earlier when someone picked and prepared the tea leaves I drank this morning. After years of living in Great Britain and Ireland, I have grown fond of tea from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Africa, and across the Indian subcontinent. I prefer my tea, like Jane Austen, at breakfast or mid-day. Though, if the mood strikes and the pastries are properly prepared; I can be convinced sit again at 4:00 pm.

Jane Austen is the ideal companion with whom to share a cup of tea. As a writer she is thoroughly obsessed by tea. I find this enthralling. Few writers share my fascination. Coffee addicts and bourbon hounds are a dime a dozen. But Jane Austen, Ms. Northanger Abbey herself, is into tea. That is the foundation on which one can build a lasting relationship.

The drawing room consumption of tea was one of the events which held middle and upper class society together in Regency England. Drinking tea and talking in one room (at home) was still a fairly new event. Jane helped make this both popular and cool. Tea was important (as it still is) to ordinary British people both rich and poor. You can see this in her work. In her six published novels, Jane’s characters drink tea on almost 60 occasions. The contents of the tea cup define the meaning and set the rhythm of Emma’s, Mr. Darcy’s, and the other character’s days.

Were I to begin to read, how would I, prepare my Jane Austen tea?

A boiling kettle,
Full of water,
I would need,
Then leaves of tea,
Brought to me,
Across the sea,
From the Chinese,
To be strained,
And steeped,
And then to see,
If I could sip,
And be pleased.

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-Memories of Marmalade on Toast

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Sometime,
on the way to May,
I was waylaid,
by a jar,
of Oxford marmalade,
with tiny flecks,
of rind and peel,
they made my toast,
long to feel,
the overwhelming realization,
of crust and crumble,
as the blade draws wide,
spreads and glides,
unevenly applied,
with loving care,
taste in segments,
not filled with air.

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-In the Company of Forgotten Scones

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In The Company of Forgotten Scones

The diminishing darkness,
Of the kitchen bulb,
Absorbs the fading blandness,
Of the dying paint,
While far beyond,
The crumpled remains,
Of yesterday’s scone,
Lies exasperated,
Unpreservable preserves,
Waiting to be consumed,
By those who imagine not,
Spread in growing retreat,
Layered with disquiet,
My scones, my scones,
What have I forgot?

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought- Sweet Tea (Part 2) A Poem

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Stonehenge was overrated,
The Eiffel tower was too small,
The Hindu Kush was kind of cushy,
The menu at Wendy’s has become too complicated,
Captain has lost his Crunch,
I was beyond half past dead when I got to Nazareth,
My burden is great,
My yokes were served over easy,
The bacon came late,
Yet the sweet tea,
Stood up and called to me,
Sit and drink,
Await and be,
Find meaning in the leaves,
Brewed at the gas station counter,
And offered for your relief.

-Richard Bryant