Saturday, 26 January 2013

A Storm in a Teacup

by Patrick McGuiggan

Sugar lumps – they drive the Irish crazy.

My recent move to England, after living in Northern Ireland for so long, has been a reasonably smooth transition.  However, there is one cultural difference that doesn’t sit well with me – sugar lumps. I can’t remember ever sitting in a cafe in Belfast and being presented with lumps of sugar.
I apologise if you are a fan, but a lump is simply not a quantifiable amount of sugar. When faced with these lumps, I often end up scanning the sugar bowl, frantically trying to assess which lump is equivalent to my usual one teaspoon of sugar – a skill set I have seemingly yet to develop.
Perhaps this is where the sugar cube comes in. At least that way the decision is made for you, but is there some sort of independent governing body which standardises the dimensions of these cubes? Are they all equivalent to one teaspoon of sugar? I would guess not. It all seems like a one big game of sugary Russian roulette and the odds are not in my beverage’s favour.
Right, so let’s say that somehow I could accurately and efficiently select a lump or cube of the correct size every single time. Problem solved. Well, because that leads me on to my next point. Sugar, along with every other solute, dissolves faster when it has a larger surface area. Essentially what you end up with is two distinct choices: stir like your life depended on it or enjoy the sugar all at once, in one sickly final gulp.
Bring back the humble teaspoon and granules, England, or I’m switching to green tea.


  1. I see your point, it is clever. But if you have sugar in your tea, I guess you just have to put in a cube.

  2. I agree, sugar should be made into cubes!


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