Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tea and Coffee Memories

Swiss Mountains

I had fully intended to try a new tea today, but it turns out to be a coffee day.  We stopped at an Italian bakery that had sfogliatelle, approximately pronounced schh-foo-lia-dell, where the first 2 syllables kind of glide together and the main accent is on the last one.  The perfect accompaniment to one of these crusty, custard filled clam shell pastries is espresso, so that is what we did.  Yum.

The best part is the warm memories of my husband's aunt, Zizi and his mother, Josie, and cups of espresso around the kitchen table by the warm stove, laughing and talking and hearing the old stories.  I have 4 of Zizi's espresso cups, tiny little pink chintz things and they bring back good memories.  I use Ma's old espresso pot and if I am making pasta or bread, I have her old pot for those.  I love to be reminded of these ladies.

I  have tea memories, too. Fortunately or unfortunately, I had three grandmothers, my birth mother's mother and my stepmother's mother, my Grannie Grunt - why we gave her that nickname, I don't remember.  She and I would cut large burdock leaves for parasols and go down the hill to the little stream in their pasture to have tea with the fairies.  Her neighbors would wonder about this, but as a child, it was magic.  For her, it was important to be in my world and not come out for those disapproving adults.  We always found  a small  leaf or two to put some cookie bits on to float down the creek for the sprites who lived under the bridge, after we finished our tea and cookies.

My Gramma 'Duffee was not playful, but she would have a cup of green tea with me, using her sterling wedding teaspoons, while we sat on the porch and watched the sun go down over the valley.  She, too would tell stories about her family and teaching in one room schools, raising turkeys and funny stories about my mother.   I don't remember the cups we used, but I can still see the big box of Lipton's green tea and the old, rather ugly  teapot she used.  When she felt my cousin Sue and I were old enough, she gave each of us six of those spoons.  She was a farm wife and there wasn't much in the way of elegant things like sterling.  I treasure these spoons and the ones from Grannie G's side of the family.

My third grandmother, my father's mother, was old and crippled very badly with arthritis.  She was from Switzerland, as was my grandfather.  She mostly drank coffee, except for chamomile tea.  Our yard was covered in chamomile and I remember her being carried out into the yard so she could direct me in picking the herb  Then it would hang in the kitchen to dry, giving off a wonderful scent of apples.  We drank a lot of it in the winter, heated by a big  wood cookstove, listening to the wind howl around our old farm house, Mitzi, the dachshund in her basket.  It tasted of high summer.  I have her tiny little teapot and a long apron she always wore over her housedresses.

What about you?  What are your tea memories?  Please share them.

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