ALEXANDRA STODDARD'S TEA CELEBRATIONS: The Way to Serenity by Alexandra Stoddard


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Stoddard (Creating a Beautiful Home, not reviewed) makes some amazing claims about the healing powers of tea in this overwrought little book that focuses less on cooking than on personal memoir, entertaining hints, and egregiously inane aphorisms. Those who plod through the insipid writing will learn that ""each of us, whether broken or whole, is empowered by tea""; that Stoddard's husband thinks she must have been an apprentice tea-master in a former life; and that the sound track from the film Mission serves as the perfect accompaniment to ironing napkins. She spends an inordinate amount of time explaining how to make the tea experience special with everything from mismatched cups and saucers (buying a complete tea set is ""less exciting"" than collecting porcelain piece by piece) to flower arrangements (go asymmetrical, be sparing, let a leaf or blossom overlap the vase, ""play"") to using decorative swizzle sticks to spice up an ordinary glass of hot or cold tea (she seems especially attached to the set she bought at Pier I: ""Sometimes I put the blue ball at the bottom of the glass, and other times I put it at the top for color and delight""). The prize for making it to the end is a chapter of recipes, both sweet and savory, to serve with tea -- from lemon bread to watercress-and-egg sandwiches. Most are well explained, one-bowl operations, and the scones are fabulous. But with only 19 recipes, no serious cook will look at this twice. Tea may soothe, but Stoddard will drive you crazy with her self-conscious, precious drivel.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1994
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Morrow