Books to read on na­tional soup and tea month

The Bradenton Herald (Sunday) - - Local - BY KAITLIN CROCK­ETT

What bet­ter way to spend a chilly Jan­uary day than warm­ing up with a nice bowl of soup or a hot cup of tea?

Jan­uary is na­tional soup month as well as na­tional tea month.

His­tor­i­cal ev­i­dence of soup dates to 20,000

B.C., when wa­ter was boiled over hot rocks in­side clay ves­sels or wa­ter­proof bas­kets lined with an­i­mal hides.

In the 19th cen­tury, the ad­vent of can­ning made soup a con­ve­nient readyto-eat op­tion. The Camp­bell Soup Com­pany was founded al­most 150 years ago in 1869, and in 1897 chemist John T. Dor­rance in­vented con­densed soup, which could be pack­aged in smaller cans and sold at a lower price.

Your lo­cal Mana­tee County li­brary has some de­li­cious soup-cen­tric books.

“Cooks Il­lus­trated: All Time Best Soups” (2016) by the ed­i­tors of Amer­ica’s Test Kitchen is full of hearty broths, rus­tic stews, el­e­gant purees, and ex­am­ples of the tasti­est soups from around the globe.

“The Pho Cook­book: Easy to Ad­ven­tur­ous Recipes for Viet­nam’s Fa­vorite Soup and Noo­dles” (2017) by An­drea Ouyn­hgiao Nguyen won a 2018 James Beard Foun­da­tion Award. Pro­nounced “Fuh” and not “Fo,” Pho is a nour­ish­ing and fra­grant Viet­namese noo­dle soup that is per­fect for the cooler months, but also re­fresh­ing in warmer months.

“Broth: Na­ture’s CureAll for Health and Nu­tri­tion” (2016) is avail­able as an e-book and con­tains de­li­cious recipes for broths and stocks, the ba­sis for all good soups, stews and risot­tos.

Some peo­ple drink tea as an al­ter­na­tive to cof­fee, but tea has been the drink of choice for thou­sands of years, orig­i­nat­ing in China.

An an­cient Chi­nese proverb says, “Wa­ter is the mother of tea, a teapot its fa­ther, and fire the teacher.”

In Bri­tish cul­ture, tea is

a sym­bol of so­phis­ti­ca­tion and for some peo­ple is nearly syn­ony­mous with what it means to be Bri­tish.

South­ern Amer­i­cans live for iced tea, which was first in­tro­duced at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, as an ac­ci­dent. Tea mer­chant Richard Blechyn­den had in­tended on giv­ing away free sam­ples of his hot teas, but a heat wave had set in and no one was in­ter­ested. To save his in­vest­ment, the mer­chant dumped ice into his brewed tea, and his iced tea sam­ples were a hit.

Most teas, not just green teas, have medic­i­nal qual­i­ties and con­tain “polyphe­nols,” an­tiox­i­dants that re­pair cells and help our bod­ies fight off dis­eases and can­cers. Some also ar­gue that many teas pro­vide caf­feine with­out the crash of cof­fee or so­das.

To learn more about the his­tory and cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance of tea, read­ers might en­joy “Tea: the Drink that Changed the World” (2007) by John Grif­fiths, a world-wide his­tory through the past 4,500 years of tea trade.

Sim­i­larly, “The Story of Tea: A Cul­tural His­tory and Drink­ing Guide” (2007) by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss takes read­ers through the Chi­nese forests where tea cul­ti­va­tion orig­i­nated, to Bud­dhist tem­ples in Ja­pan, to the tea gar­dens of In­dia and be­yond, while also pro­vid­ing brew­ing and tast­ing ad­vice.

Look­ing for an en­thu­si­ast’s guide? Check out “The Art and Craft of

Tea” (2015) by Joseph

Uhl, avail­able in print at your lo­cal li­brary, which in­cludes a plethora of his­tory and in­for­ma­tion, as well as recipes for craft­ing your own tea blends and tea cock­tails.

Kaitlin Crock­ett is a li­brar­ian II and as­sis­tant su­per­vi­sor at the Pal­metto Li­brary. Speak­ing Vol­umes, writ­ten by Mana­tee County Pub­lic Li­brary Sys­tem staff mem­bers, is pub­lished each Sun­day in the Braden­ton Her­ald.

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