Literary Foods: Jane Austen and an English Tea

If there is one author I have read who I would love to go back in time and have tea with, it would be Jane Austen!

Tea features so prominently in her books that it is not hard to imagine the author herself sitting with a cup as she penned her novels! If she wasn’t sipping while she wrote, I am sure the kettle was always sitting ready on the parlor hearth.

Jane Austen and her family were not extremely wealthy like some of the characters she writes about, but her family always had a constant supply of good tea from one of the best tea merchants in London, Twinings. Since Jane was in charge of making her family’s breakfast every morning, she also kept the keys to the tea chest and the sugar in her charge. I am sure she knew just how to make the perfect, proper cup to go along with the toast and muffins!

I recently came across this fascinating book  about the history of tea in Jane’s day and highly recommend it! If you have ever been interested in the importance of tea in Regency England, and particularly Jane Austen and her family, you will greatly enjoy it!

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Literary Foods: A Cottage Picnic on the Moors

literary-foods_-currant-buns

“From that time the exercises were part of the day’s duties as much as the Magic was. It became possible for both Colin and Mary to do more of them each time they tried, and such appetites were the results that but for the basket Dickon put down behind the bush each morning when he arrived they would have been lost.

A Childhood Classic That Should Be Read Again and Again | Off the Shelf:

But the little oven in the hollow and Mrs. Sowerby’s bounties were so satisfying that Mrs. Medlock and the nurse and Dr. Craven became mystified again. You can trifle with your breakfast and seem to disdain your dinner if you are full to the brim with roasted eggs and potatoes and richly frothed new milk and oat-cakes and buns and heather honey and clotted cream.”
The Secret Garden, Chapter 24

 

I don’t know about you, but roasted potatoes with butter, oat-cakes and buns with clotted cream and honey and with milk to drink sounds like a wonderful picnic to me! Perhaps a breakfast picnic. Especially on the windswept, foggy moors of an English manor house.

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The Writer’s Tea Chest

Writers and tea go together like bread and butter. Or maybe cream and sugar?

Famous authors down through the ages have had their favorite drink to keep their imaginations fueled as they wrote. Everything from beer and wine, to lemonade and cocktails found their into the heart of writers and sometimes into their writing.

beautiful blue and white china still life by: Linda Yvonne:

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Literary Foods: Plum Pudding

“But now, the plates being changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone—too nervous to bear witnesses—to take the pudding up, and bring it in.

Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the back-yard and stolen it, while they were merry with the goose—a supposition at which the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were supposed.

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Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered—flushed, but smiling proudly—with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.

Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that, now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing.”
A Christmas Carol , Chapter 3

Except for this scene and several others in The Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist’s gruel and the old wedding cake in Great Expectations , food doesn’t play a huge part in the novels of Charles Dickens. Perhaps it was because he, as a writer, was more concerned with showing and exposing the dour poverty and the dirt of his time than the feasts and holiday foods of those who could afford them.

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Literary Foods: Lembas

Lembas

“In the morning, as they were beginning to pack their slender goods, Elves that could speak their tongue came to them and brought them many gifts of food and clothing for the journey. The food was mostly in the form of very thin cakes, made of a meal that was baked a light brown on the outside, and inside was the colour of cream. Gimli took up one of the cakes and looked at it with a doubtful eye.
“Cram,” he said under his breath, as he broke off a crisp corner and nibbled it. His expression quickly changed, and he ate all the rest of the cake with relish.
“No more, no more!” cried the Elves, laughing. “You have eaten enough already for a long days march.”
“I though it was a kind of cram, such as the Dale-men make for journeys in the wild,” said the Dwarf.
“So it is,” they answered, “But we call it lembas or waybread….”
The Fellowship of the Ring, Book II

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