Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cafe Au Lait

I'm fascinated by the omnipresence of coffee. People wake up in the morning and the first thing they do is make a fresh cup. Millions of people are drinking coffee at this very moment— decaf, tall, grande, large, small, cappuccino. There is probably a gas station at which you can pump the coffee yourself, a unique little coffee shop, or a Starbucks around the corner. Coffee
 does not stop at its diversity of flavors and pungency; with all of the extras you may add, one could write a novel. Sugar, cream, saccharine filled sweetener, chocolate, caramel... the list goes on.  None of those appeal to me, for I am a purist (or so I like to think). I like coffee with milk (soy) or what the Italians call caffe latte. This is my favorite drink; a day without it, is a day incomplete. When it's hot outside an iced latte cools me off while providing me with the utmost delight. If it's mid-December a hot latte has a way of warming me and my cold hands up, as my wintery-chapped mouth slowly absorbs the rich flavors.  
If it would provide me with the nutrition doctors say I need, cake and coffee is all I'd consume in a day. I'm not the only one in my family with great-taste— it's genetic. I remember Dad telling me, that when he was just a lad, he'd walk into the kitchen  and on numerous occasions his parents would be sitting around the table with friends and shmoozing over coffee and cake.  I remember the first time I enjoyed coffee was with my father, when I was a young girl. Dad was taking me to buy house-slippers for my cold feet; they were pink with one white embroidered clock on either shoe. Instead of going straight home after our purchase he turned to me half-smiling and said, "Rachael I have a surprise for you." I remember anxiously waiting for Dad to arrive at this "surprise" destination. He finally parked the car and there it was. On the outside there was a sign with a funny shaped woman on it, and I asked what "Starbucks" meant. Dad explained that it was the name of a new coffee shop, first established in Seattle. I never tasted a drop coffee until that day. We went in, and he ordered a tall latte with skim milk. After his first sip, he used the word "superb" as  he always does when describing something he likes. I tried the foreign drink after it cooled, and admitted that I too like the taste of the latte. I vividly remember the cozy velvet chairs we sat in as we absorbed the atmosphere of this new coffee-house, that I would later describe as American imperialism at it's best
As I reflect on that day I wonder if I actually enjoyed the taste of coffee or just said I did because I've always wanted to be just like my father, which at the time entailed doing and saying everything he did. Whatever the answer may be, today, I whole-heartedly, genuinely and willingly enjoy the aromatic warm flavors coffee. 

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