Tea and Tacos

The pandemic reinforced my love of tea and tacos.  Here is the beginning and the end to 2021’s daily grind:

~ the pot: with Andy home it is a two quart cast iron, heavy on the forearm; if she’s not, it is the smaller, lighter one quart.  Either way it lives on the stove top, awaiting its daily use.

~ the pour #1: cold on the hand, the 1/2 gallon, red capped, jug sits in the lower right side of the door inside the fridge: milk and water 1:1, both measured in a flimsy, light blue, plastic measuring cup and dumped unceremoniously into the pot.  I walk gingerly from sink to stove with the second brimming cup.

~ the sweet: honey is more flavorful; the sugar more exact.  An upward pry with my right index and middle fingers on the thin metal wire that clamps the sugar jar then a harsh scrape of hardened crystals or a long, downward push, easing the sticky cover open and the two handed-thumb finger, push together squeeze; slow, stretchy, sweet.

~ the dry: light movements in one wrist eek small black kernels of tea into the palm of my other hand, once then twice; two small piles are dumped into the liquid.  A 12 oz grape jelly jar with purple checkered lid holds the masala: the jar is tipped sideways and a gentle scrape fills half of a square, copper 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon; a quick rasp on the pot drops all the adherent powder into the mix.

~ the heat: the wrist twist, then the click click click and the smell of gas and the clank of cast iron on steel.    

~ the wait & stir: sometimes this is multi-tasked and sometimes it boils over; a trained ear searches for the change in sounds, a trained mind keeps the ear trained and a mental timer.  The stir, invariably with some sort of hand carved spoon, scrapes the sides where it softly bubbles up first.

~ the grip: a worn, brown, second hand, cloth potholder take the sharp, hot edge from the black handle.

~ the pour #2: always slowly—but not too slowly—into ceramic, handmade, clay mugs, all with names scratched into the bottom, all different: blue, tan, green, brown, red, squat, tall, conical, cylindrical; sometimes its a pour other times it is ladled.

~ the sip: a slurp, pursed lips uselessly blowing steam with an accepting, anticipatory quiver as they await the scalding, tan liquid. The leaves, untethered always escape the pot, floating on the top, then sliding inward with the drawn-out, tentative slurp.

~ the exhale: out the mouth’s pursed lips, bearded cheeks puffed, long and slow.

~ the walk: with cup in hand, outside the house; meandering, inspecting, and picking at the flowerbeds if the season is right or inside the house, looking at projects if the weather is less conducive.

Find the recipe here!

And here is the end-ish†:

~ the preparation #1: chopping the radish; half and half again, but with the fleshy white side down for the second slice.  Then quarters.  A heavy, balanced chef’s knife does the work.

one version of the tacos

~ the heat: the wrist twist, then the click click click and the smell of gas and the clank of cast iron on steel.    

~ the preparation #2: sliding the fingernail between the cheap, stuck together, corn tortillas; the kind that come in a yellow bag and an 80 count, pulling them apart, tossing two onto the black shine of cast iron.

~ the serving: not setting, but sliding the square, brown plate, a daily home for four tacos and two lime slices, onto the burlap cloth covering the table.

~ the drink: the pry of a dirty, unkempt, left index fingernail working to open the red, white, blue, and gold of a Hamms tall boy before being set on the dry, ragged, burlap.

~ the inhale: through the nose, deep and sharp,

~ the exhale: out the mouth’s pursed lips, bearded cheeks puffed, long and slow.

and here is another version

~ the expletive: “fuck” 

~ the descent: a wrinkled, veinous hand, knowingly grasps the back of the chair, its grunge filled creases alternately disappearing and returning in its opens and closes; the once strong, athletic, capable body, eases itself slowly down onto the hard, straight seat, a dark, well oiled colonial.

~ the sustenance: a squeeze of the lime and sting of juice on wounds, the pinch of the taco, the tilt of the head, the jaw, moving, working again. 

I hate routine, but I will let these ones fly.  These, just this once.  I love tacos and tea more than I hate routine.


†Author’s Note: truth be told, I wrote the taco portion in April 2020, and added the tea portion recently, which means, most of 2021’s tacos involve Andy, conversation, and a crossword puzzle…  And the tea is different too.  Beyond the greater capacity, the milk is 1/2 almond and 1/2 whole and the tea is 1/2 decaf loose leaf and 1/2 black.  The routine though is similar; typically I am out of bed long before Andy. . .

Featured Image: tea processes on a fall morning.

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A little bit less of a nomad now, Jared still likes to refer to himself in the third person.

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