Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Word of the day: tea-fire

I thought, for no reason at all, of tea-fire, a word I remembered seeing in an L.L. Bean cookbook. It’s not in the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s in neither the second nor third edition of Webster’s New International. But it’s still right where I read it years ago:

There is something about the ritual of the noon tea-fire that gilds the lily of pleasure on a hunt. Roy [Smith, a trapper] was once genuinely outraged when I, coming in from a lone hunt, confessed that I’d had a dry lunch. “Oh, you must never do that,” said Roy. “A mon must have his hot tea at the noonin’.” He is quite right, of course (and why is it that tea it must be, not coffee?).

Angus Cameron and Judith Jones, The L.L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook (New York: Random House, 1983).
A tip from Cameron and Jones: “Guides invariably like strong tea.” And a disclaimer from me: I have never hunted and barely fished. My acquaintance with The L.L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook comes from a time when our household was buying all things Bean.

Google Books returns a small number of additional tea-fires, or tea fires, ranging from 1914 to 1996. The best:
We made breakfast in the willows fringing the creek in the same spot where four days previously, homeward bound, we had halted to build our little tea fire. The place was now full of recent memories.

Hamilton M. Laing, “On the Trail of the Wavies,” Outing, 64, no. 6 (1914).
So cozy! — aside from all the shooting.

Related reading
All OCA tea posts (Pinboard)

[The 2008 Tea Fire began in an abandoned structure known as the Tea House. The wavey is the snow goose.]

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