January 28th, 2011

Fishy Circumstances

Tea with Triffids (this time with biscuits)

Now that I've finished The Day of the Triffids, I can tell you about the tea in it.*

Tea inventory
Five cups of tea are drunk on approximately two occasions over the course of The Day of the Triffids. Two cups of tea are drunk simultaneously in Senate House at an "improvised canteen that a pleasant-faced, middle-aged woman had competently set up there" (109).** About twenty pages later, our main character consumes three cans of tea over the course of four pages and a day. It is "sweet and strong" with a shot of rum in the first one at least. Chests of tea appear as something abscondable later on (192). That's it.

Coffee inventory
Coffee appears sooner, but no more frequently. Coffee with cointreau (92). Coffee with brandy. Coffee with canned milk (96). An unopenable tin of coffee (154).

Uncaffeinated notes
This book is chockful of alcohol in a very '50s way. Brandy. Mostly it's brandy, when it isn't beer, whiskey (Irish or otherwise), sherry, cointreau, rum, port, gin, or mead. I'm almost tempted to graph all the alcohol.

What really interested me about the edibles in this book proved to be the packaging, and how much it's changed in the last sixty years. Bacon always comes in sides. Salt comes in blocks. Sugar comes in sacks. Butter and margarine come in both tubs and packets. Biscuits appeared several times, in cases, or underneath spread marmalade.

There's a truly wonderful analogy along the way: "we should be able to cry only for a time over even an ocean of spilt milk" (164). There's also a fascinatingly unfamiliar one: she "began to taste the beans as if they were one of the jams of paradise" (155).

Taking copious notes does slow me down a bit while reading, (swisstone, I blame you.), but ensured I could go back to figure out the Dickens reference, and remember that "cook-book" was hyphenated. Mostly, references to food were not to substances so specific as those I've listed so far, but by "food", "a meal", "food", "breakfast", a "midday meal", or "food". The way food so often is in novels, really.

* For background to this post, see yesterday's poll. Which surely most of you have, since I've never had so many people fill out a poll before!
** Penguin, 2008 edition.