Vacation and verse.

Gourmandistan has temporarily relocated to Normandy, and we are taking a brief break from food blogging while we enjoy the fruits (mostly apples, if you’re curious) of a French vacation. Once again, we’ve given our good friend and Michelle’s college chum, Susan Thomsen, the solemn duty of maintaining our presence on the World Wide Web. Since 2005, Susan has written about children’s books at her delightful blog, Chicken Spaghetti, which she named after a favorite Southern casserole. (She’s originally from Jackson, Mississippi.) Once upon a time Susan worked at The New Yorker, and later reviewed New York theater for an online city guide. Susan lives in Connecticut with her husband, 12-year-old son, and various pets, including (of course) chickens. If you’ve got kids, like kids or even know any kids, you’d be wise to add Chicken Spaghetti to your RSS feed!

Tempest: A Prose Poem by Susan Thomsen

Take trip to Ireland. Read Edna O’Brien. Drink lots of tea. Return home. Think of nothing but tea. Make tea with tea bags. Terrible. Not it. Unable to read Edna O’Brien. Lunch with friend who spent year in Australia drinking tea. Friend says bought teapot after similar tea experience. Friend also recommends English Breakfast. Resolve to purchase teapot. Find two-cup teapot for eight dollars. Bargain. Realize loose tea is key. Milk and sugar cubes, too. Buy loose tea in tin at fancy deli. Have never in life made tea without tea bags. Have never made much tea, period. Cast yearning glance at unresponsive Mr. Coffee. Panic. Australian adventurer unavailable for counsel. Remember not knowing how to bake potatoes. Who knew? Fannie knew. Consult Fannie Farmer Cookbook on tea. Fannie knows. Fannie tells. Love Fannie. Boil fresh water. Warm teapot with boiling water. Pour out. Add big spoon of tea, more water. Strategy involved but do okay. Let pot, tea leaves, water sit. Five minutes later—tea. Breathe sigh of relief. Read Edna O’Brien.


I wrote that poem quite some time ago after my father treated me to a trip to Ireland in the 1980s. We went with a tour group, which, given my dad’s and my own tendency to argue about directions and driving advice, was a good thing. One of my favorite parts of the trip took place one afternoon in Cork. The bus had just dropped us off at a hotel, and I was starving, unable to hold out until supper. Fortunately, the hotel’s restaurant was open and offering some snacks. A waitress brought us some cheese and mayo sandwiches (think pimiento-less pimiento cheese) and fresh pots of tea. Dad and I sat and chatted and enjoyed the simple feast. Ever since then, having some good tea in the afternoon perks me up, giving me fuel for the rest of the journey. My father, who passed away last spring, loved to travel and meet people; the trip to Ireland was just one of many gifts he gave me.


  1. Hope you have a wonderful time – sounds like an amazing trip! Susan, I’m so glad to see that (once again) our two worlds are converging! I didn’t know that you were connected to Gourmandistan! Looking forward to reading your posts here!

    ~ Laura (Pinot and Prose)

    • Laura, howdy! I didn’t know you knew my Gourmandistan friends. In college Michelle not only cooked coq au vin for us, she knew the best places for BBQ in rural western Kentucky.

    • Okay, I must find Barry’s. Thank you. I like Typhoo, but don’t find it that often. Right now I’m using PG Tips. For some reason, I can’t taste much in the Twinings loose teas…

  2. Pingback: Writing, reshooting and a restaurant-centric visit to Rouen (September 19-20) « Le Trou Normand

  3. Good morning Susan, I popped over following a comment of Michelle’s and here you are, what a treat! I am at this very moment drinking hot tea, and eating home made ice cream. Just lovely. I shall be back .. c

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