Nicey and Wifey's "Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down" is a whimsical and thoroughly entertaining homage to a tradition that lives on, worldwide, amongst those of us of British heritage. As a third generation Canadian living close to the U.S. border, the influences of our gargantuan neighbour to the south have been pervasive and difficult to avoid throughout my life. Burger chains and strip malls were always more numerous than fish and chip shops and corner greengrocers, and until very recently, obtaining a decent cup of tea in a restaurant or donut shop was virtually impossible (and, if available, usually consisted of a bag dumped unceremoniously into a cold cup, topped up with lukewarm water from a spigot).
Yet the tradition of sitting down at home for a biscuit and a properly-brewed cup of tea (strong black tea, with milk and sugar) properly steeped in a pot (warmed in advance, and covered with a cosy) using water boiled with an electric kettle (a device still difficult to obtain in the States)is one of the cherished rituals which still definitively differentiates us Canucks from the Yanks, and which binds British descendents together around the world.
Teatime occurs as many as six times a day in our household (breakfast, morning tea, lunchtime, afternoon tea, dinnertime, and evening tea), and the first response when company of any description arrives is to put the kettle on. Teatime provides a welcome, enjoyable, and convivial break from one's daily routine, whatever it might be, and the authors have captured the subtleties and delights of this cherished ritual in their whimsical, well researched, quirky little book. From an overview of the teamaking ritual itself through a comprehensive taxonomy of tea biscuits, Nicey and Wifey have created a fascinating, witty, ad eminently useful field guide to a well-entrenched tradition (long live the jam ring; beware the dreaded pink wafer...)
Thorougly recommended, especially to the poor unfortunates who have never known the joys of a Tunnock's Caramel Wafer and a hot cup of Typhoo on a wet autumn day.
One other bit of wonderment: I purchased this delightful little book for the unimaginable sum of one cent, plus shipping costs of about six dollars Canadian... and it was delivered by overseas post, promptly and in excellent condition, all the way from Goring By Sea in West Sussex. The vendors are listed as "World of Books - Recycling Books on Behalf of Charity" (see their Amazon storefront at [...] ). I have written to them inquiring about how one constructs a viable business model when the item carries a token purchase price of a penny and purchasers are charged only for the actual shipping costs. Apparently it has to do with diverting perfectly good but unwanted surplus books destined to the landfill or the pulping plant, and selling them to new owners, presumably at a cost lower than that of conventional disposal. Whatever magic they are working, it appears to be genuine... I wouldn't hesitate to order from them again, especially since they make many of their purchases from charitable organizations, make a positive environmental impact, and find new homes for millions of used or surplus books annually.