M-I-crooked-letter-crooked-letter-I-crooked-letter-crooked-letter-I-humpback-humpback-I. Please tell me I'm not the only one who remembers that spelling hint from childhood. Whether you know that little ditty or not, here are some new things to know about tea and the state of Mississippi!
• Ever heard of the Great Mississippi Tea Company in Brookhaven, Mississippi? It's certainly got an intriguing heritage, as it was founded on the homestead of the great-nephew of pioneer Daniel Boone and the great-niece of statesman John C. Calhoun. According to the company's website, "We at The Great Mississippi Tea Company are setting out on a course to develop a working model for commercial tea farming in the First World as a beacon for the world to implement mechanization and innovative thinking to produce and sell an ethically sustainable crop for the masses while not employing the traditional labor standards so widely used in the industry. Through mechanization, revolution, and implementation of new industry standards at The Great Mississippi Tea Company, our hopes are that others around the globe will also take a look at their operations and decide to change their operating standards to become ethically sustainable not only to planet Earth but to their fellow man." The tea farm was the subject of a piece in Modern Farmer magazine last fall, and you can read it here. I look forward to following the company's progress on Facebook to see if the Great Mississippi Tea Company can achieve its vision!
• Vicksburg, Mississippi was once the home of the Old Southern Tea Room. It was definitely an Old South, southern-belles-and-hoopskirts kind of place, and the food even drew the attention of noted food columnist Duncan Hines. The story goes that he had returned from Europe and was asked what he would like to do first. He said he wanted to go to the Old Southern Tea Room in Vicksburg and have the stuffed garden eggplant and corn pudding. I made (and enjoyed) their Chicken a la King, and you can find that recipe here.
• Many states and cities have an iconic dessert, and I think if I were going to host a tea party that featured Mississippi, I would certainly try to include a mini version of Mississippi Mud Cake! On a trip to Mississippi several years ago, I came across a magazine with an article about this famous treat, and it said that the dessert's name may have been inspired by mud on the banks of the Mississippi River or simply by the thick mud which happens as a result of all the rain in that state. Whatever the case, here's a link to one of the many recipes for Mississippi Mud Cake, a wonderfully rich chocolate cake made with pecans and marshmallows.