Thursday 18 July 2019

You Are What You Eat - and Drink 15

It's "rosé", not “rosé wine” – you're supposed to know it's wine.

Everything comes in a “range” now, even of degrees of fizziness in water. But to save on plastic bottles, Upwards now have soda streams. (In the 60s when these devices reached us from America, only Weybridges bought them. Make your own fizzy drinks? Out of flavoured sugar syrup? What Upward could contemplate etc etc...) Now, even though they have the devices, they like to tell you that you won’t want too much fizz in your Sani-Cola.

Eileen feels guilty when she drinks a “diet soda”, because she knows sweet things are bad for you. Samantha, who went to a convent school (where she met Caro Stow-Crat), reserves guilt for sins you might confess to a priest (unclean thoughts). Except nobody does that any more. And not going to Mass on Sunday is no longer a mortal sin. What happened to all the people who went to Hell and burned for all eternity under the old rules, she wonders?

Milk used to come in bottles. Silver-top was medium creamy, gold-top was very creamy, green-top was unpasteurized. The cream rose to the top to become “top of the milk”. Some milk was “homogenized”, however – rather sweet, and the cream never separated out. Upwards despised it and complained it made your tea taste funny. But at some point in the last 30 years, all milk became homogenized, and the snobbery has disappeared. I don’t remember a single Upward commenting on the changeover, or saying “I say this homogenized milk isn’t so bad really”. Though they did lament the disappearance of non-pasteurized milk and for a few years some farms used to sell it. You could use it to make your own cottage cheese – rejoicing in the freedom from government red tape or “health and safety” – and contract TB, brucellosis or worse. (There was something called UHT milk which was universally despised – it stands for ultra-high temperature processing. In hotels it came in little plastic pots, along with tiny wrapped butter pats and weeny pots of jam. Sterilized milk in bottles with metal tops lived on in corner shops, bought by people who didn’t have fridges, until it too vanished.)

In the Good Old Days, you couldn’t get a glass of water anywhere. Restaurants and cafés begrudged it. But you could always get some warm tap water in a chemist’s if you needed to take an aspirin. How come we didn’t dehydrate and shrivel up? We drank tea all day. And now that we all carry water bottles everywhere, tea has almost disappeared.

“May I press you to another cup of tea?”, as Teales used to say. The old instructions about leaving tea to “mash” and warming the pot made sense when the leaf fragments were larger and the brew took longer to steep. Now all tea is tea “dust” of the kind you get in teabags. And milk is all homogenized and they’ve done something to the water...

When Sam asks for a “herb tea” in a café, the Polish staff look blank. To them, English Breakfast is just another box of teabags, and “tea” means peppermint or chamomile. If she asks for “lemon tea” she gets lemon and ginger, even in Italian restaurants where you’d think they’d have heard of té con limone. The English Breakfast is weak and tepid – Rowena's caff is the only place where you can get a proper cup of stewed, black tea with sugar and cream.

And the Americans are still using "tea-drinkers" as an insult! See Alex Morgan, pictured above.

More here, and links to the rest.

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