Can boiling water to make a cup of tea really be so difficult?
Yes, if the instruction manual of one manufacturer selling kettles in France is to be believed.
Ah there's nothing like a cup of tea to quench your thirst.
Even though in Britain the tea ritual is perhaps no longer what it once was, the British are still one of the largest consumers of the beverage - milk included of course.
Not so the French.
They've never been as keen as their neighbours across the Channel on (from Astérix chez les Bretons) "une tasse de thé avec un nuage de lait" although according the kind folk at Wikipedia, they're coming around to appreciating a cuppa or two and its popularity doubled in the years from 1995 to 2005.
What was long "a social habit of the upper middle class" in France has found its way into the hearts of the hoi polloi with companies such as Mariage Frères offering a mind-boggling array of teas to its clientele.
If you've ever visited Paris then you might have paid the company a visit. It has been in business since 1854, has Tea Salons and Tea Emporiums dotted around the French capital and even a presence abroad.
Mind you, if it's a cup of Typhoo, PG Tips or Brooke Bond you're gasping for, you might want to give the place a miss.
After all how appetising does one of its most recent arrivals, Lily Muguet or lily of the valley flavoured white tea, sound?
Apparently "Mariage Frères returned from a stroll in the woodlands of France with the highly original idea of composing a tea that features the light, bright scent of freshly picked lily-of-the-valley," as they tell us on their site.
And they describe how it's always time for Lily Muguet because "The airy, tender flower with satiny sheen provides the smooth, sweet charm of its sun-kissed petals."
Enough said perhaps.
But what about brewing at home?
Whether it's the scented fruity muck of a tisane or herbal tea you're after, or something more basic and dare-it-be-said "normal" you would like, one thing's for certain.
Unless you're intending brewing Iced Tea, you'll need some boiling water.
And that inevitably means a kettle.
Now it's not as though turning the thing on is intellectually challenging in any way.
Let's face it, boiling an egg is more difficult.
But that's not what Siméo, the manufacturers of one brand of kettles available on the French market, appear to think.
Just look at this humble kettle and the instructions that came with it.
Not just one simple page, but a whole little booklet complete with diagrams and instructions on:
how to turn it on for the first time; how to use it; security tips; cleaning and so on and so forth.
All useful stuff of course, but do the manufacturers really think that the French, usually so at home in the kitchen, are really such idiots when it comes to boiling a kettle of water?
Boiling a kettle in France is obviously a complicated affair!
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