04 August 2009

Will you have a cup of tea?

If we lived in Dublin, I'd ask you this question as soon as you walked in my door. That's what you do here to be sociable; you serve tea. I'll admit, there's nothing like a good, steady caffeine buzz to turn the taciturn into Chatty Cathy.

If I lived in Dublin, it'd be in a 4-story Georgian house. Back when Ireland was still under the rule of the English throne, during the reign of one or other of those Georges who were King, rows of these elegant homes were built across Dublin. They stand in orderly formation, like soldiers in full formal dress on parade rest around the city. I'd paint the front door of mine the hottest, glossiest, most inappropriate pink, instead of the traditional red or yellow, like this one. "That's where the gauche American woman lives," people would whisper as they walked by.

Kitchens in Georgian houses always seem to sit at the lowest level of the house, below the street, with their own door, where the servants once entered. Down in mine, I'd put the kettle to boil on my Aga "cooker" (as they call stoves here). I'm fascinated by these beautiful kitchen dinosaurs. They don't have temperature gauges, they run perpetually hot. Our Lady of Perpetual Perspiration, I'd call mine.

But back to having you over for tea. After the kettle boiled, I'd serve your tea in Cornish crockery - named for the blue sky and white wave crests of Cornwall. We all know what a fool I am for anything maritime. My Grandmother's side of the family came from Cornwall, so it feels especially appropriate. How excited am I that after these discontinued collectibles became prohibitively expensive, they are for sale again?

If I lived in Dublin, I would have bought these Port Merrion plates I saw for four euro each at a charity shop in Dun Laoghaire (I'll give any non-Irish person a dollar if they can pronounce that correctly). My mom has been collecting Port Merrion for years, but they always seemed a little fussy for my taste. But California is the land of The New. Here in Dublin they strike me as elegant and timeless. And just to keep things interesting, I'd use them with this vintage 70's set I found in the same Oxfam store:
Now then. Drink your tea before it goes cold.