August 27, 2010 § 1 Comment
I had promised myself to buy tea. Barry’s Tea, and only Barry’s Tea. I always fail to stick to my grocery lists, but I like to remind myself that I walked in with great intentions. McKay’s is wonderful because it’s locally owned and has a much better selection than the Food Lion next door–that’s right, a family-run grocery store holding it’s own against a corporation!
So, while I was perusing the bread section, it happened. The distinct smell of a corned ham, stuffed with kale and cabbage wafted right down the deli counter and into the bakery where I was struggling to decide between a baguette and a boule. I perked up. Could it be?! You see, Stuffed Ham is a delicacy unique to Southern Maryland. Traditionally it is made at home, however most people order theirs from local grocery stores in order to save time. I could go on and onandonandonandon like I did in my senior thesis that was solely devoted to it. (Yes, I wrote a paper on Stuffed Ham in order to graduate college.) I’ll stop.
I marched up to the deli and could barely ask if they had Stuffed Ham. I could smell it and they couldn’t hide it from me! A mixture of celery seed, ground mustard, crushed red pepper, and other spice help create a punchy green stuffing that compliments the saltiness of the corned ham. Tub in hand, I eagerly checked out. No more detours for this girl; the only thing between me and my ham was a short jaunt home.
August 27, 2010 § Leave a comment
In Egypt, tea is a way of life. While studying abroad in Cairo, I remember seeing a police officer–likely the lowliest among those standing guard–crossing the street, zigzaging through heavy traffic with a dented aluminum tray loaded with glasses of scalding tea. For many Egyptians there are two constants in their lives, locally made Cleopatra cigarettes and Lipton Yellow Label Dust Tea. Ramadan becomes truly a test of patience and will when neither are allowed to pass through ones lips between sunrise and sunset. As an American traveling, I was often offered shay bi sucar wa liban–tea with sugar and milk–just as the British had taken theirs during colonial occupation. La, la, I’d answer, sucar bas, “just sugar,” as is customary throughout the Arab world.
Tea is perpared differently by the Bedouins, a nomadic ethnic group that has long occupied the vast deserts flanking the Nile. Their shay is made extra-strong with the help of additional spoonfuls of dust tea and is boiled in a metal kettle over an open fire. Traditionally, various indigenous herbs are added to the pot to steep before serving. Today, most simply add marmaraya–sage.
When I was in Sinai, I was served this tea along with a traditional bread that had been cooked on a large, overturned wok-like pan. The smokiness of the fire penetrates the tea and compliments the depth of the added sage. Sugar is added until the drink is sticky sweet, the amount needed to take the edge off the tannins of the dust tea. At the end of a long, humid summer day, Bedouin shay is a welcome reprieve.
Yellow Label tea can be found in Middle Eastern and Indian groceries. I used fresh sage because I happened to have some growing outside. However whole, dried sage would work as well.2-3 tsp Lipton Yellow Label Dust Tea (Any black tea, bagged or loose, will do) 2-3 tsp Sugar, depending on how sweet you prefer ~6 Leaves fresh sage
Boil about two cups of water. I use my UtiliTea Kettle from Adagio Teas and I LOVE it. Add boiling water to your tea. Use 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons tea for every cup that you intend to make. Bruise the sage by rolling it between your hands and add it to your teapot or cups. Add sugar to taste. Don’t be afraid to get heavy handed, the sugar is needed to take away the bitterness of the tea. Allow to steep for four minutes–remember, it should be fairly strong. Sit, listen to the howls of the desert, and enjoy.