Twee gwows in Bwookwyn

A display at Depanneur, which, by the by, serves up the best sandwiches in New York’s foodiest borough

[Added October 9. I see from comments along the lines of “What’s so twee about Marmite and posh lemon curd?” that an explanation is in order. First of all, there is an American novel from the 1940s called “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” Since its publication, roughly 50 percent of all newspaper and magazine articles having to do with the borough of Brooklyn have had headlines that are variations of or puns on that title. (This predilection among what the Brits call subeditors and Americans call copyeditors has only recently abated.) So I was, first, partaking of that tradition and, second, suggesting that it may indeed by slightly twee for residents of Brooklyn–the archetypal dese, dem and dose borough–to be partaking of such quintessentially British products as Marmite and posh lemon curd.]

30 responses to “Twee gwows in Bwookwyn

  1. It’s funny how we now take it for granted that a cup of tea comes with a bag sticking out of it (as in the picture here). Whatever happened to a proper teapot?

    • Agreed! Despite being from the UK, the first time I ever saw Lipton’s Tea (thought by many to be quintessentially English) was in my mid-20’s… in Oman! It was also the first time I’d seen the one-per-cup style of delivery. 25 years later, they’re pretty common in Canada… but thankfully so are normal (or is that “regular”?) tea-bags for the pot.

    • Is it true that in the US tea is often served (in cafes etc) with a tea bag in a cup and a pot of hot water? In the UK it is usual to pour *boiling* water onto the leaves, teapot or no teapot. In my place of work we have an article by George Orwell (“A nice cup of tea” – Evening Standard, 1946) stuck to the wall behind the kettle; this is one of his main points🙂

      Also, I’ve noticed a common thread in US tv shows of (snobby, stereotypical) Brits complaining about tea made with tea bags. In my experience 99% of tea here is made with bags (pot or no pot) and I’ve never heard anyone complain they can “taste the paper.” I doubt George would approve however…

      There are certain class associations with how you take your tea… but perhaps that’s for another blog🙂

      • Mooch Blackmore

        It’s not just being “snobby” to dislike tea bags. If you would like a cup of Darjeeling, Assam, Russian, Lapsang Suchong you won’t get it in a tea bag!

      • I don’t know where you’re based, Mooch, but I beg to differ:
        http://www.twinings.co.uk/speciality-black-tea-bags
        http://shop.clipper-teas.com/teas/specialities

        Among others. Commonly found on supermarket shelves across the UK. Even Tesco sell own-brand specialty tea bags (in their “Finest” range, admittedly).

      • I have not encountered the combination you describe, Lynette. Usually it’s the boiling or at least hot water poured over the teabag in a mug.

      • I’m a Brit myself and I make tea at home with a bag in the cup. But I thought the image was funny here: that that method has now become the standard way of making a cup of tea. I think the first time I saw a teabag in a cup was in the States in the eighties. To be honest, I can’t say I ever enjoyed picking tea leaves out of the tea as I had to do as a child…
        By the way, I didn’t understand that reference to Twee in Brooklyn either, so thanks for the explanation (below) in the comments!

  2. Why “twee”? What does it apply to, or are you using it to mean something other than it usually means?

  3. My dad used to eat lemon curd and watercress sandwiches. Pretty twee, huh?

  4. Yes, as a Brit I have to agree with Little Black Sambo that there is a distinct lack of twee going on here.

  5. David Armstrong

    I don’t get it either – what’s “twee” in the picture? Odd, perhaps, to see a posh lemon curd next to Golden Syrup and Marmite. It should have been Gale’s.

    • The Cadbury’s Buttons on the left probably fall into the ‘twee’ category, because they’re starter chocolate for small children, especially in the white chocolate variety. (I also see what looks like a Curly-Wurly peeking out.)

      • David Armstrong

        Alas, Nick, Cadbury’s Buttons are now technically American (belonging to Kraft – remember all that controversy?), and the same for Curly-Wurly. But what’s accompanying the eggs in the drawing? I thought it must be bacon, but on closer inspection it looks like caviare.

        Depanneur must be loving this.

  6. I see that an explanation is in order. First of all, there is an American novel from the 1940s called “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” Since its publication, roughly 50 percent of all newspaper and magazine articles having to do with the borough of Brooklyn have been a variation of or pun on that title. (This predilection among what the Brits call subeditors and Americans call copyeditors is only recently subsiding.) So I was, first, partaking of that tradition and, second, suggesting that it may indeed by slightly twee for residents of Brooklyn–the archetypal dese, dem and dose borough–to be partaking of such quintessentially British products as Marmite and posh lemon curd.

    • I have also now changed the title of the post from “Twee Grows in Brooklyn” to “Twee Gwows in Bwookwyn” to emphasize my intentions.

  7. That’s heady, but I’ll never have the phrase “best sandwiches” in the caption of a photo that shows Marmite. (I don’t mean to blaspheme!)

  8. Mooch Blackmore

    In Quebec a depanneur is a neighbourhood convenience or corner store.

  9. a propos of the lemon curd and watercress sandwiches. They become twee if the crusts have been cut off and the sandwich is then cut diagonally into small triangles. The word carries the idea of something that has been over done in an attempt to appear upperclass or stylish. It borders ‘precious’ in a mildly pejorative sense and ‘camp’. As for tea in teabags, referred to once on television as ‘ tea with surgical dressings’, I was taught tea making by an elderly Yorkshire aunt. Tea from a tea caddy was essential. One teaspoon per person and one for the pot,was the quantity. The water had to be boiling. Firstly you actually poured hot water into the earthenware teapot to warm it up. You took the pot to the kettle, not the kettle to the pot to ensure the water was at maximum temperature when it hit the tea. you then swirled it three times to settle the leaves. A teacosy was vital. I do not want to get into the debate about whether the milk goes in first or after. Sugar is optional.I amazed her by remebering forty eyars on exactly what she had taught me. At work I use teabags. My Texan colleague can’t grasp the significance of the water being at boling point.

    • “I do not want to get into the debate about whether the milk goes in first or after.”
      It is nevertheless an interesting debate. According to which way you do it, the molecular structure of the brew is affected, and hence the taste (I am not a scientist & may have used the wrong terms but a chemist tried to explain it to me). If the milk is in first the blend is smoother and (in my opinion) better tasting. Mr Twining himself was on the wireless a few years ago saying the same thing.

  10. BS6008 (Now ISO3103) does specify that the milk should go in first

  11. Thanks for the clarification, Ben. I was aware of the novel of that title, but unaware that the inhabitants of Brooklyn talked like they had cauliflower ears. I still don’t see what’s twee about Marmite – it looks and tastes like an industrial waste product.

    Regarding the tea issue – and could I remind everyone that this is supposed to be a language blog – isn’t the purpose of the milk to neutralize the tannins? In any case, the picture of the teacup should have two strings because, as any fule no, the best single cup teabag is Tetley EasySqueeze (previously called Drawstring). If you’re reading this, Mr Tata, my address is…

    • I think Marmite technically is an industrial waste product. Marmite is to beer brewing what Vaseline is to crude oil extraction.

  12. David Armstrong

    Thanks, Cameron, for confirming my suspicions. As a child I was given Marmite, or lemon curd, or Golden Syrup, or Robertson’s jam, on bread for tea. I think I would have been astonished to learn that in the future such working class fare could be referred to as “twee”.

    However, it would be a different matter if Depanneur were to stock Duchy Originals…

  13. I thought that Marmite was more of a New Zealand thing…

  14. Sargon the Demented

    I’m a bit late to this one…. but yes, making Tea (proper tea) is something Americans don’t really “get”. The problem, it seems to me, is the lack of kettles – a coffee machine, even one which will cheerfully dispense “hot water”, just isn’t hot enough to make proper tea. The water has to be really properly boiling (to the point it’s actually quite dangerous to pour, and the chances of scalding are high).

    So, the sequence goes:
    1) Boil water. Splash some into the teapot to warm it. Return water to kettle
    2) Add tea to teapot (1 spoon per person + 1 for the pot; or 1 teabag per person + 1 for the pot). Reboil the water whilst doing this
    3) When the water boils, pour rapidly into teapot, until teapot is full (or desired level is reached). Put lid on teapot, cover in tea-cosy, stand on insulated base.
    4) About 3 minutes later, open teapot, give it a quick stir, and it’s ready.
    5) Add the milk first, to a bone china cup. Pour tea on top. The reason for adding the milk first is because the hot tea could crack thin bone china, the milk therefore protects the china. You may also have heard it as not to “scald” the milk, this may also be true.
    6) Voila. The perfect cup of tea.

  15. As a sign of how lazy I am I now drink instant tea. I do however still insist on real semi-skimmed milk though.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s