Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pitcher this!

These 90+ degree days we are having in the east certainly call for ice and liquid...either drink it or sit in it! This is off my computer from a weather site up the road as I work on this post!
But, probably better is to picture the pitcher...The word "pitcher" comes from the 13th century Middle English word picher, which means earthen jug. It is linked to the old French word pichier which is the altered version of the word bichier, meaning drinking cup. The pitcher’s origin goes as far back to the Medieval Latin word bicarium from the Greek word bikos, which meant earthen vessel.

I do have some "earthen jugs" in the shop...not medieval...

late 1800s and early 1900s.

This heat wave definitely calls for pitchers filled with ice and refreshments, does it not? Iced tea has an intriguing history. The first iced teas were actually cocktails of tea and alcohol, and green tea was used (funny how we think we are always the first to discover something like green tea!) In an 1839 cookbook entitled The Kentucky Housewife, author Lettice Bryan suggested combining 1 1/2 pints of strong tea, 2 1/2 cups of white sugar, 1/2 pint of sweet cream, and a bottle of claret (dry red wine) or champagne. The beverage could be served hot or cold. The tea punches went by names such as Regent's Punch, named after George IV, the English prince regent between 1811 until 1820, and king from 1820 to 1830.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, American versions of this punch begin to acquire regional and even patriotic names, such as Charleston's St. Cecilia Punch (named for the musical society whose annual ball it graced), and Savannah's potent version, Chatham Artillery Punch. Check out this recipe. I think if you drank this, you could care less about the weather!Catawba Wine, Rye whiskey, rum, Benedictine, gin, brandy...whew!

The oldest sweet tea recipe (ice tea) in print comes from a community cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia, by Marion Cabell Tyree, published in 1879:

Ice Tea. - After scalding the teapot, put into it one quart of boiling water and two teaspoonfuls green tea. If wanted for supper, do this at breakfast. At dinner time, strain, without stirring, through a tea strainer into a pitcher. Let it stand till tea time and pour into decanters, leaving the sediment in the bottom of the pitcher. Fill the goblets with ice, put two teaspoonfuls granulated sugar in each, and pour the tea over the ice and sugar. A squeeze of lemon will make this delicious and healthful, as it will correct the astringent tendency.

Iced tea's popularity parallels the development of refrigeration: the ice house, the icebox (refrigerator), and the commercial manufacture of pure ice, which were in place by the middle of the nineteenth century. The term "refrigerator" was used for the first patented ice box in 1803. Some research will say that ice tea was invented at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair when Richard Blechynden, Commissioner of Tea for India, was the director of the East Indian Pavilion at the fair. Mr. Blechynden had prepared samples of hot tea for fairgoers, and noticed that no one was taking advantage of them, as it was an unseasonably hot day (we know that feeling!), and everyone was going for the coldest beverages they could find like the Bavarain exhibit called the "Tyrolean Alps" that Adolphus Busch (as in beer)and other brewers hosted with a restaurant seating 3,000 people. Blechynden had the idea of icing down his hot mixture and presented it to the public that way. The crowds loved it, and word spread of this delicious way to enjoy a healthy (or non-alcoholic at least)drink. Mr. Blechynden did not invent the iced version, but he did make it more popular with Americans(or at least the sober ones!).

So, if you are looking for some unique beverage pitchers, I have some Depression era

and pottery...

and even some 50s era retro pitchers...

So, if you picture a pitcher on your porch, please pop in for a pourer. (Had enough "p" words? Brain melt...sorry!)


The Cinnamon Stick said...

Sorry can't comment you made me thirsty!!! XO, Judy

gail said...

Hi Susan, I hope your staying cool down by the shore :) Its aweful here, but thats normal.
I love the depression glass pitchers. The antique pinky colored one is my favorite.
I hope your having a great day.
(()) gail

Just a bed of roses said...

They made a drink so complicated to get! It's also quite a bit of coveted sugar in one of those drinks.
Your pitchers are beautiful, love using old ones.

I'm laughing about your first sentence, just lay in the ice, that should help.

We are 100 here, however humidity has been low. So its still easy to walk in the morning and evenings.
Its changing this week, storms and heat everyday.

We have friends stuck back there because of the flights/heat.
always love your sense of humor and learning over here susan.