Link Buffet: Confections and convictions

I love coffee and I love tea, and I fancy that guests in my home can expect a respectable (if not transcendent) cup of either in my house. But I also love a good rant, so I very much enjoyed this anti-coffee polemic by a staunch tea-drinker at The Toast.

Do you remember the day when you fell in love with coffee, bitter and steaming and black as sin and then decided that would be your morning drink ever afterward? Of course you don’t. No one falls in love with coffee that way. Some people, coffee’s Chosen Few, might like it right away. But for others, coffee is one of those difficult personalities that you have to learn to love, accompanied with massive quantities of sugar and cream.

Unlike coffee drinkers, tea people knew from that first taste of tea (milky and sweet, perhaps stolen from your mother’s cup) that this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Kinda feel like that shout-out to milky sweet tea is another gauntlet thrown, though. Tea-drinkers tend to have very strong feelings about what should go in it, too!

As a coffee drinker, I just want a cup of regular drip coffee with room for milk, and I tend to dig in my heels and grouse about coffee trends. But if the next big coffee thing is cascara–a vaguely fruity, caffeine-rich tea made from the skins and pulp of the coffee cherry–then sign me up! An energy drink that smells and tastes botanical and uses up parts of the plant that usually gets thrown away? How well you know me, NPR.

C.S. Lewis’ Greatest Fiction: Convincing American Kids That They Would Like Turkish Delight. At first I thought pasting the title alone would be self-explanatory, but on reflection I do want to point out that the author (Jess Zimmerman) asks a number of American friends how they imagined Turkish delight when they read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and the range of responses is pretty interesting:

All we knew was that Turkish Delight was an exotic-sounding treat that would be your first request if a mysterious and elegant woman asked you, “what would you like best to eat?” . . .  So we wound up imagining whatever we would have liked best. It was like looking into Harry Potter’s Mirror of Erised, but for desserts: when you thought of a treat worth betraying your family for, what did you see? Turkish Delight was our collective candy id.

I had imagined a light, airy, soft dessert, like a nougat or meringue, maybe with nuts. Not necessarily something I’d like for myself, but something sort of otherworldly that would fit in with this snowy landscape. When I first had Italian torrone in Philadelphia, I realized that was more or less what I had imagined Turkish delight to be. (It is nothing like Turkish delight.)

At Lucky Peach, an interview with sugar artist Margaret Braun. If you’re in the New York area through January, you can check out her work at the Museum of Arts and Design, where she is making 2,000 cups out of sugar. She says they are surprisingly sturdy and usable.

sugarcups

I enjoyed this interview in its own right: the cups are gorgeous and the artist’s method sounds fascinating, and I am always interested in the dialogue about art vs. craft and what gives either its value, culturally or economically. But if any contemporary art students in the New York area are looking for a juicy final essay topic, I think you could get a very rich discussion out of comparing Braun’s cups to Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety,” the immense Sphinx created out of sugar  in a former Domino sugar refinery in Brooklyn last year. Two sugar sculptures, two very different material methods and outcomes (dainty but strong vs. monumental but intended to erode), two very different attitudes to labor, two racialized portraits of femininity.

If you do write that essay, let me know. Otherwise I’ll end up writing it myself–next year, after I meet the deadline that’s been hampering me from doing much original content this winter.

At the Smithsonian’s American History blog, a little history of vintage board games about shopping:

Shopping board games can be dated back to the 1800s. The Good Old Game of Corner Grocery, patented in 1887 by George S. Parker (of later Parker Brothers fame), was a nostalgic recreation of what shopping had been like before mass production, when the majority of Americans still bought their goods from small shops or independent wholesalers. Unlike later shopping games, the true adversary in Corner Grocery was uncertainty. At the start of every round, players did not know how much money they would have to use, or even which goods would be available for purchase.

I’ve been re-reading Susan Bordo’s wonderful Unbearable Weight and I posted about one of its chapters, “Reading the Slender Body,” on my other blog. It is a lengthy recap but relevant if fat studies is your jam.

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