Celtic Teas With Friends
by Elizabeth Knight (Benjamin Press, 2008)
According to author Elizabeth Knight, there is no such thing as a stranger in the Celtic countryside—because all who travel there are welcomed as friends. These traditions of hospitality, she maintains, are centuries old and sacrosanct.
Tenth-century Viking raiders noted that the warm-hearted Irish tended to build houses at crossroads. Even in those unsettled times, the door was usually left unlatched to encourage travelers to stop for a meal and stay the night, Elizabeth writes in her charming new book, Celtic Teas With Friends. Visitors could expect the best the house had to offer. It was unlucky to turn anyone away. Friend or foe, beggar or bard, neighbor or stranger, anyone who broke bread at the table was considered kin and his life protected.
Eleven centuries later, she says, little has changed. In Celtic Teas With Friends, Elizabeth explores the graciousness and traditions of tea in Ireland, Cornwall, Scotland, and Wales. In a sure and comfortable voice, the noted author educates and entertains the reader with a mix of history, trivia, and chatty bits and also offers a calendar year’s worth of Celtic-themed teas.
Along with a St. Patrick’s Day Tea, Elizabeth also suggests a number of original tea-party themes, such as a Huntigowk Topsy-Turvy Tea in honor of April Fools’ Day and a Welsh Hiraeth Housewarming Tea in November.
For each theme, she offers guidance for the hostess with regard to menu, setting, and scenery, as well as mouthwatering recipes. Irish Soda Bread Scones, Cornish Splits, Midlothian Oat Cakes, and Apple Pasties are only a few of the authentically Celtic recipes Elizabeth collected from friends and colleagues for the book she has dedicated to her own distant Irish kin.
“I hope this book will inspire you to host a tea party and offer hospitality in the time-honored, warm Celtic fashion to family and friends,” she writes. “Remember to welcome the stranger.”