Gen­teel rit­u­als of eat­ing and drink­ing are lost

Cape Argus - - OPINION - By David Biggs

IN THIS fast-mov­ing age, meal­times are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly in­for­mal and rushed. When last did you see some­body warming a teapot and set­ting out the strainer? I won­der how many non-pen­sioner Tav­ern read­ers would even recog­nise a cake fork if they saw one. How many of our read­ers reg­u­larly set a but­ter knife on the din­ner table?

Sev­eral of my friends no longer own saucers or, if they do, they have long for­got­ten where they stored them.

Teatime has be­come a hur­ried mat­ter of toss­ing a poul­tice into a mug and giv­ing it a stir. Do you know any­body who still owns a tea cosy?

Whether we hap­pen to be hu­mans or dogs, cats or pigs, mon­keys or cows, the one thing we all have in com­mon is that we all have to eat.

There used to be a big dif­fer­ence in the way we did it. An­i­mals sim­ply opened their mouths and slurped in any­thing ed­i­ble within reach.

Peo­ple, on the other hand, usu­ally set aside spe­cial times ded­i­cated to eat­ing to­gether in a for­mal and struc­tured way.

For this, hu­mans in­vented table man­ners (re­mem­ber them?). I imag­ine thou­sands of pairs of eyes be­ing rolled in mock amuse­ment and a thou­sand voices mut­ter­ing: “Table man­ners? Who has ta­bles any more?”

Prob­a­bly not many peo­ple do, but we should re­mem­ber that all those rules of table man­ners were de­signed to make eat­ing a more pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence: to make peo­ple feel com­fort­able to­gether. Right down to the use of the tea cosy, which al­lowed your guests to en­joy a sec­ond cup of tea with­out hav­ing to rush to fin­ish the first be­fore the pot be­came cold.

The tea cosy prin­ci­ple has been re­dis­cov­ered in re­cent years for a dif­fer­ent rea­son. We now use pot cosies un­der var­i­ous names to save elec­tric­ity. Some call them hot boxes or straw boxes, but the prin­ci­ple is to wrap the pot up warmly to pre­vent heat es­cap­ing, and al­low the resid­ual heat to do the cook­ing.

I’m cur­rently us­ing a lit­tle pot du­vet called a Kiphot. It works well for dishes like rice and pota­toes.

Bring the pot to the boil, place the Kiphot on top of the lid and turn off the heat. Some time later, when you’re ready for sup­per, you sim­ply re­move the lit­tle du­vet and, voila!

The rice is cooked. You can learn more about the Kiphot from the in­ter­net.

We may think this is new tech­nol­ogy, but Granny would prob­a­bly not be im­pressed.

“Like a sec­ond cup, dear? It’s un­der the tea cosy, still pip­ing hot.”

Last Laugh

Joe bought a new shirt, and when he put it on he was sur­prised to find a hand-writ­ten note in the pocket. It said: “Hi, my name is Sally. I made this shirt, would you like to get in touch. My phone num­ber is…”

In­trigued, he called the num­ber and a sweet voice an­swered. “Why did you sug­gest I got in touch with you?” Joe asked.

“I was cu­ri­ous to know what sort of id­iot would buy such a funny-look­ing shirt,” she replied.

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