Clockwork Alchemy, the Steampunk convention associated with FanimeCon, has returned to San Jose’s DoubleTree Hotel for the second year. Featuring dance, art, crafts, writing, music, fashion and food within the Steampunk aesthetic, because the genre is tied to Victoriana, tea will always be available whenever convention attendees want a cuppa. Not only will the DoubleTree Hotel’s restaurant offer its usual hot tea on the menu, but the convention is setting up its own tea room, called The Alchemist’s Tea Parlour, where guests can get not only a nice hot cup of tea and a biscuit, but even have their fortunes read in their tea leaves. The Tea Parlour will be open from Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Riesling Room.
Other occasions for tea include a writers’ gathering and reading, called “Tea and Trumpets”, on Friday from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Monterey room. On Monday at 11 a.m., there will be an interesting class called “Stocking the Steampunk Pantry, Equipping a Steampunk Kitchen, & Setting a Steampunk Table” in the San Carlos Room. The class will explore the relationship between the Industrial Revolution and agriculture in changing how people got the food they ate and what was available to various locations. Class attendees will use this information to imagine the tools, gadgets, and ingredients appropriate to a Steampunk kitchen. There might also be an episode of “Tea Dueling” in and among the other activities!
Admission, or Membership, to Clockwork Alchemy costs $65 for the weekend (and includes free admission to FanimeCon, also in San Jose this weekend), but you can also buy a Membership for each day on its own. Just go to the At-Con Registration line in the Bayshore room at the DoubleTree Hotel; Friday, the opening day, costs $35 to attend, Saturday and Sunday each cost $40, and Monday is $30 for a general admission Membership. Children are welcome to attend with an adult, and have a discounted rate.
If you’re unable to attend the festivities, consider putting together your own Steampunk tea; you could even pack a tea picnic and bring it to Clockwork Alchemy to enjoy in the Alchemists’ Tea Parlour or even in the halls! Remember, the Steampunk genre features time and space travel as well as gadgets and the Victorian aesthetic. A menu for “tea on an airship” can include bags of roasted peanuts “from the airship stewardesses”, as well as ship’s biscuits, dried salted fish, corned/salt beef and/or beef jerky. Portable food like “little savory pies” (pasties or meat-filled turnovers), canned and dried foods, and cured sausage don’t need refrigeration, were common on 19th century ships, and are convenient for traveling. Pickles and chutney are Victorian exotics that were brought, along with limes and other citrus fruits, to fight scurvy among sailors. Steampunk airships are run with steam power, making boiling water for tea, and hot surfaces for cooking things on, easy things to find. Scones, crumpets and small pancakes can be “baked on a red-hot coal shovel from the airship”, and puddings, dumplings, and eggs can be “boiled in the airship’s boiler room” or “over a laboratory burner” for the tea table. Mix some dried fruit with “hot water from the boiler” to make chunky jam or fruit compotes.
To allude to international travel during the 19th century, and the exotic places mentioned in Jules Verne’s books, consider including Asian, African and Latin American foods. The Victorian era was also a time of intense experimentation and the development of food science, resulting in “scientific” and “health food” like Graham (whole wheat) flour, corn flakes and “patent” foods. Beverages should include English-style teas like Earl Grey, but can also include popular Victorian alcoholic drinks such as port, rum and whiskey.
Decor can include old clocks, spyglasses and binoculars, maps, globes, compasses and leather luggage, as well as Victorian linens and lace. Try serving beverages and sauces from apothecary jars, laboratory beakers, test tubes and petri dishes as well as Victorian-style china and silver. Sailcloth and eagles’ wings can provide softness as well as shapes for ornamentation along with bolts, cogs, wheels and other typically Steampunk imagery. The addition of a few more accessories, like vintage international travel posters, railroad, airplane, steamship or hot-air balloon memorabilia, or interesting Victorian bric-a-brac will finish your space nicely.
Copyright 2013, Elizabeth Urbach.
For more information:
Clockwork Alchemy 2013 webpage
Steampunk tea dueling YouTube video