Actually, that one’s not yours. Yours isn’t quite that shiny. You found this picture here, along with a lot of other samovars. Nice, aren’t they?
Anyway, the total number of samovars you own is now six, if you include the one you gave your Dad for Christmas once. And it is with great pride that you can claim that they are not just there for decoration, but you also know how to work them.
This is mainly because of the time you were in the village for a month or two when the electricity lines had been blown down and B had forgotten to order another gas balloon to attach to the stove after you ran out. So you were doing all the cooking on a camp fire in the garden. Well, I say ‘you’, but in fact I mean ‘your mother in law’. You were not in charge of cooking. You were in charge of boiling the samovar.
This involves lighting a fire in the tube which runs down the middle of the main water holding urn component. Apparently pine cones are the traditional fuel, but charcoal or an endless supply of twigs works just as well. For those readers wishing to have a go at this at home, you do not recommend your Dad’s method of ignition. He uses firelighters and is in regular danger of singing off his eyebrows or worse, exploding the samovar. No, you are afraid it’s going to have to be newspaper, the smallest twigs you can find and lots of lying on the ground gently blowing on the sparks as well as flailing at it with a bit of cardboard instead.
Or you could just drop a few coals in off the barbecue.
Once you’ve got it going, you need to remove the collar at the top of the tube and add a chimney. This should have a kink at the end, which you assume has something to do with facilitating the draw of the contraption. You recommend having a metal one knocked up somewhere. Dad used to use one of those cardboard picture tubes until he set it on fire. This may have been the fault of the firelighters though.
Then it’s just a matter of keeping the fire stoked and hanging on for fifteen minutes or so and you’ll have rather a lot of just boiled water. You can now remove the chimney, replace the top and make the tea. It’ll be a bit stronger than your average Brit is used to because you are going to dilute it. You sit the teapot neatly on the collar and get ready to serve. It’s at this point you assume that in days gone by the whole affair would have been wheeled into the drawing room, smelling sweetly of pine cones and tea.
You don’t have a drawing room in the village and you are looking rather smudged with ash by now, but nevertheless you are capable of graciously accepting a cup, filling about a third of it with the tea mixture and then manipulating the fancy faucet on the samovar to top it up with water.
No milk. Sugar’s OK. Or you can have a little dish of jam which you eat with the tea as a sweetener instead.
Fun, isn’t it? Now you just need a bit of outdoor space you can call your own so you can play with your new toy.