Saturday, March 6, 2010
Tea and Books Saturday #10 - "The Tea Cookbook"
The Tea Cookbook
By William I. Kaufman
William I. Kaufman, author of such titles as "The Nut Cookbook," "The Hot Dog Cookbook" and "The Coffee Cookbook," is described on the dust jacket of this book as a serious collector of recipes who traveled far and wide gathering new recipes for his collection. No surprise, then, that this book is part history, part how-to, and part cookbook. The first section of recipes features dishes made using tea as an actual ingredient, such as the very first recipe in the book, Savory Tea Pot Roast. It is made with "4 cups strong tea including leaves," but lots of the other tea-as-an-ingredient recipes call for instant tea, which I doubt very many of us are using today. Still, even those recipes are ones I will use as inspiration and try to adapt by perhaps replacing or infusing the liquid ingredients with real tea.
The black and white photos of food, which appear courtesy of Lipton, are quite sixties looking. Someday soon, I have decided, I am going to consult my various books and scan some photos of teatime fare from the sixties on to see if you can guess which decade is featured. I'll bet you can, because our food tables look much more polished today!
In his chapter on tea parties, Kaufman maintains there are five categories of such parties: the nursery tea, the informal tea, the formal tea, the tea reception and the "high tea." (He has "high tea" in quotes, so I shall as well.) I actually thought I sort of made up the wedding tea reception, but Kaufman's book makes it clear mine was not a first, although I greatly agree that this is a fine way to serve a large crowd at a wedding celebration. His "high tea" menu, however, almost made me gag: grilled sausages, grilled sardines on toast, tiny codfish balls, chicken livers wrapped in bacon, etc. (I realize he's using "high tea" in the proper sense, but still ... is that a tea menu you'd care for? Not me!)
This book also provided a bit of useful info I'd never come across before, and if you have, I'd love to know the source. Kaufman says that while the French were not especially big tea drinkers, "it is important to credit the French with the innovation of adding cream and milk to tea. It is a contribution to tea drinking for which many imbibers are exceedingly grateful and illustrates to a great degree the gift which the French have for gastronomic discovery." Tidbits like that, along with some unique recipes, certainly make it worth tracking down a copy of "The Tea Cookbook."