Groucho: Now here is a little peninsula, and over here is a viaduct leading over to the mainland.
Chico: Why a duck? (pun on immigrant pronunciation of vy for why)
Groucho: I’m fine, how are you? I said this is a viaduct leading over to the mainland.
Chico: All right, why a duck?
Groucho: I say that’s a viaduct.
Chico: All right, why a duck? Why a duck? Why not a chicken?
Groucho: Well, I don’t know why not a chicken. I’m a stranger here myself. I know that’s a viaduct. You try to cross over there on a chicken and you’ll find out why a duck. It's deep water, that's why a duck.
Video link: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4493024/the_cocoanuts_why_a_duck/
I'm asking "why a duck?" about the Duck Shit Dancong Oolong tea in the white2tea club box this month, but it turns out this tea has quite a history. Hojotea has a good article on the varieties of Phoenix oolong teas, and is a good source of buying this type of tea. the one we got in the club box is Phoenix Ya Shi Xiang 鳳凰烏崠 烏崠鴨屎香単叢. Supposedly the farmer didn't want anyone stealing the tea and hoped the scatological name would keep people away. But why a duck and not a chicken?
First of all, I can't believe I'm going online googling why a duck again. Earlier this year I became obsessed by Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli's childhood story of her food-obssessed parents hanging a cooked bird from their dining room chandelier for three days. I couldn't imagine what kind of recipe involves hanging up a cooked chicken or some such. I'm getting flashbacks of salmonella fears which caused me kitchen cleaning OCD back when my son was little, because of all the warnings on US television back then of salmonella on kitchen cutting boards and counters. So I had to know what kind of chicken recipe involves hanging up a cold carcass in the middle of the house. Took me months online to find out the recipe was, you guessed right, Peking Duck. It's, why, a duck! Not a chicken.
|Oh Shit, this is all I got left...guess I mostly drank it all.|
Hopefully you did not brew yours in the Yixing, because clays can kill a tea like this. Best keep it in the porcelain or glass gaiwan. I got a gaiwan full of luscious, huge leaves, and a good 8 steeps which is rather amazing for an oolong. Full of cherry fruit flavors on my tongue, my local reference taste in "stone fruits". I'm glad I chose to brew up only 6 grams to start and didn't binge in my usual tea drunk fashion on the entire 10 gram sample in one sitting, because the two sessions I'm getting here are precious indeed. But that leaves only 4 grams or so to photograph, cuz *hic* I drank it all.
|A steaming pile.|
When I was in 5th grade, I attended a three-room country school in northwestern Wisconsin. This school had actually been closed, but an overflow of students that particular year in my hometown led to busing students who were not studying a band instrument to an old school house located nine miles out of town. My father would not let me study oboe, nor any other band instrument because he wanted me to study piano instead. Not a bad choice, but it led to a year in a country school which infuriated my father who did everything he could to prevent me from being bussed out of town to no avail. You no take-a band, you no get-ta stay in town. It was a tough year for me in another way, my parents were going through an ugly divorce, not common then in my neck of the woods. But my teacher Miss Vallez was a new, young teacher just out of college and I liked her.
One day early in the school year, a boy brought a live muskrat to school in a garbage bag. He handed it to the teacher and it bit her on the hand. She was out of school for a couple of months and had no fewer than twelve rabies shots in the stomach. The muskrat ended up testing negative for rabies, but the test took a long time and she had to go through the shots anyway. To make things worse, the boy who brought the muskrat was from one of the four Polish families in town. And I was from one of the three others. Wisconsin Polish Americans have ways of embarrassing one another, the later pope just made it worse around here. And they aren't just rural situations, I read in the Madison paper of a Polish American guy who was caught by the cops outside a local grocery store with a pound of shaved ham in his pants he hadn't paid for. When asked about the ham in his pants, he said he couldn't remember how it got there. This is pretty much the same excuse that Muskrat Boy gave as to why he brought a real, live wild animal to school for Show-n-Tell. He got suspended for a couple of weeks I think.
Because of this, I can fully imagine some kid bringing Duck Shit tea to school because he thinks it's funny and it's really the true name! A teacher not knowing any better would think he's being naughty and send him to the office. The secretary would call his mother who would be angry, not because her kid brought Duck Shit tea to school, but because she had to leave work and pick him up.
It's irreverent. It's the answer to why a muskrat, and not a puppy. Every other kid is going to bring a puppy. Like they are supposed to. It's why we have Duck Shit tea in a brand new, high-end tea club box, instead of Emperor's Tribute Tai Ping Hou Koi. This is Wisconsin, not Paris. In Wisconsin, we can adopt city culture, new countries, go to the opera, and collect Rap CD's but guess what, the Chicken Polka dance will forever trail you not far behind, you can run from it but you can't hide. In Wisconsin, it's a CHICKEN and not a DUCK unless you go to China and drink tea. It's why the tea descriptions are spare and factual, why the pricing is honest, and why a tea is represented as only for what it is and nothing more fancy, but the wrapper will have some humor. This is a place where we're all so serious and obedient, and all anybody wants to do is mess with the expectations and get away with it. Or even better: mess with the expectations and come out beyond reproach.
This Duck Shit tea is beyond reproach, it's fantastic. And it's naughty.
Requiescat in Pace.
Just an aside to the school story, because when things can possibly get stranger in Wisconsin, they will.
I met my 5th grade teacher from that country school nearly 10 years later after the muskrat. At the time, early 1980s, I was a young nun assigned to a Catholic elementary school during my teacher training. One day at the school, a man with schizophrenia off his meds, inspired by the Prophet Elijah, came to the school after morning Mass with a shotgun and killed the priest, the deacon, the janitor and shot up the sacristy. The lunch ladies hid in the lockers. We barred the school until the man shot himself, and I'll never forget the sound of hundreds of kids wailing that day.
School psychologists were hired to be on-site at the school afterward to deal with the trauma. Kids were finding bullet casings in the parking lot for weeks. Saw the school psychologists one day in the teachers' lounge. And there was, you guessed it, my 5th grade teacher.
"Are you Miss Vallez?"
She jumped up and grabbed my arm.
"Who are you? I know where you're from, because I got married and only taught for two years under my maiden name." She was Mrs. Allen now.
I told her who I was.
"You know, I became a school psychologist because of you. You wrote an essay in my first year of teaching about your parents divorce as the saddest day in your life. I didn't know how to help you. So I went back to school for my master's degree two years later."
True story of meeting up with Miss Vallez, err, Mrs. Allen, after a school shooting. Also true: years later my name became Mrs. Allen too. For a time.
Like I said, if life can get stranger, or more naughty, it's Wisconsin's unique definition of entropy that it will. And when it does you'll be in the wrong place at precisely the right time. It's deep shit here, that's why a duck.