Beard on Pasta by James Beard

By James Beard

This kitchen vintage from James Beard-a identify synonymous with culinary excellence-is again in print in a good-looking variation that includes a hundred of Beard's favourite foreign recipes and in-depth info on pasta's origins. An imperative source from the dean of yankee cooking.

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The tea cere mony concludes with the drinking of usucha, a foamy infusion which is made using less matcha and more water. The matcha, which is kept in a lacquered tea box or caddy called a chaire, is scooped into the tea bowl (chawan) by a special teaspoon or scoop called a chasaku. Hot water is added and then whisked vigorously with a bamboo whisk (chasen) to produce a pale green liquid with a light surface froth.  What is the background history to this elaborate tea ceremony? The knowledge of tea was probably brought to Japan from China in the late sixth century at the same time as Buddhism.

Genmaicha is another kind of bancha. Grains of rice (genmai) are roasted until they pop and mixed with bancha. The resulting tea, made with boiling water, has an aromatic, nutty flavour.  Gyokuro, which means ‘drops of dew’, is the finest and most expensive of Japanese teas. It is made from the very young buds of old tea bushes that are protected from the sun by straw matting for three weeks before plucking in order to produce more chlorophyll and less tannin. Only the best leaves are used. After steaming the leaves are basket-fired and hand-rolled to produce beautifully shaped flat and pointed needles of an emerald colour.

Recently another kind of tea shop called quan hong tra (red tea shop) has begun to appear in major urban centres. They offer a kind of tea cocktail – a mix of tea with flower petals, sugar, honey or milk and grated ice which is blended until a froth appears then poured into a cup and served. Tea has grown ‘wild’ in northern Vietnam for a very long time and is still harvested by the local people. In the late nineteenth century the French paid a lot of attention to growing tea and set up the first tea plantations, but the industry suffered from the continuous conflict in the area and only recently has tea production developed both for export and the domestic market.

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