By Tricia Foley and Catherine Calvert
Clarkson Potter, 1987
Having Tea is a book that fits a lot of categories: lifestyle book, tea cookbook, history book ... it's one of those tea books that truly has something for everyone. The photography (by Keith Scott Morton) is so lovely and elegant, I enjoy opening this book at any time and for any reason. Tricia Foley, who is credited with the recipes and table settings, and Catherine Calvert, who wrote the text, were longtime contributors to Victoria magazine back when Nancy Lindemeyer was editor, and this book, it so happens, came out the same year as Victoria.
It opens with one of those black and white photos of women in Victorian era dresses pouring tea for themselves out on some grand white-columned porch, and it's really a fitting image which sets the tone for this book. In her introduction titled "The Pleasures of Tea," Calvert notes that "the real wealth of the tea table lies in its ability to enrich the everyday, gild the moment with importance, and celebrate the loosening of the day's demands." That's exactly how I feel about my teatime, although I could never have said it so gracefully!
The book offers inspiration and recipes for a variety of teatimes, including a Dessert Party Tea, Fall Tea in the Country, Brunch in the City and a Proper Children's Tea. Looking at the menu for the Christmas Eve Tea, I was reminded once more that every time I look at this book I've been meaning to try that chapter's Cream Roses, which are tarts filled with cream piped into the shape of huge pink roses. It is one of the prettiest teatime treats I have ever seen, and I really *must* try these!
As always, I learned several interesting bits of tea trivia while reading this book. In a section on the history of English tearooms, Calvert tells of an 18th century woman named Maria Tweck who "opened an unlicensed tea shop -- women were forbidden tea licenses -- and refused to shut it, though fined time and again." Now don't you just love that? I'm a great believer in that old saying about how well-behaved women rarely make history. If I had a tea shop, I think instead of the usual "Anna, Duchess of Bedford Tea" I'd offer a "Maria Tweck Tea."
The book also has suggestions for what to have on hand in one's tea larder, and there are some quick and easy ideas for teatime treat fillings, breads and spreads. This is quite a useful book, but the eye candy within is probably what I like the most!