Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bits of Sugar

Relaxing with a cup of tea is a time-honored tradition. Settling in a cozy chair before the fire, sipping a strong brew sweetened by little bits of sugar actually required some strong-armed preparation.
Sugar came in hard cones in the 18thC, and pieces small enough to serve with tea meant nipping off small chunks with specially made nippers. Our modern sugar cubes approximate the size of the nips, but because of their odd shapes, special tongs were created to grasp the nips. The extra spring in the handle of the nipper kept the ends from overlapping and insured a smooth [s]nip off the cone.

Jean-Étienne Liotard, Still Life: Tea Set
Swiss, Geneva, about 1781 - 1783

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