like a tea tray in the sky

September 28, 2001

Today's Starting Pitcher:
Arrojo? Wakefield? Can you tell how little attention I'm paying to them?

Today's Reading:
The Unveiling of Lhasa by Edmund Candler

This Year's Reading:
2001 Book List

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder, what you're at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea-tray in the sky.

It's always six o'clock now... always tea-time... the long dark tea-time of the soul... and have you ever noticed that in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock it seems that T.S. Eliot and the women in the room who come and go and talk of Michelangelo are drinking tea while they measure out their lives in coffee spoons? Tea somehow means serenity and calm while coffee seems most associated with revolution. 'Tweren't tea they were drinking in The Rebel Cafe. It is kind of funny that tea is associated with empire - that would be the British Empire - and coffee with rebellion. Not that I associate serenity with empire, but it's an interesting juxtaposition.

Speaking of juxtaposition, I never would have thought of putting figs in risotto either. However, black fig strewn risotto with sweet English peas and grilled white asparagus is quite the dish. It's also the only vegetarian entree on Tea Tray in the Sky's menu so I lucked out big time.

Well, OK so tea is associated with one revolution - that would be the one in 1776 - but that was dumping it in the harbor not drinking it while planning to overthrow capitalism. Had capitalism as an ideology even been invented then? Why don't I know that? It seems like something I should have learned in college.

In A Summer Ride Through Western Tibet, Jane Duncan seems to have tea in the English style in her camp, and is constantly being invited to tea with missionaries or diplomats or soldiers in the most remote places. She describes having tea on the side of a cliff at the ruins of some remote and ancient temple in either Ladakh or Baltistan:

[... ] we had brought a tea-basket; but the problem was where to find a level place in the shade [...] so we finally perched ourselves out of the glare of the sun on the most accessible steps of the ruined staircase, the feet of one convive being higher up than the head of the other. The tea-basket was jammed against the rock with the teapot inside, the spirit-lamp balanced itself precariously on two stones, two or three places were found sufficiently flat to hold a cup or a plate very much on the slope, and one of the servants had to be called up to stand with one foot on one step and the other on a lower one, holding as many things as his two hands would contain. Someone coughed or spoke, and away shot a plate; a roll followed, which was snapped up by two observant dogs, but when a butter tin bounded down to within an inch of their noses and they took it as a kind attention on our part, shrieks and yells were hurled at them to give them a hint of their mistake and keep them off till the living sideboard could be relieved of his burden and sent to the rescue.

By those standards, dinner with Kate at Tea Tray in the Sky was quite ordinary despite the fig-strewn risotto and the perfect sautéed plum with a touch of orange sorbet and the fabulous, perfectly brewed pot of Dragon Well. Maybe we should request the human sideboard next time.


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Copyright © 2001, Janet I. Egan