Monday, August 1, 2011
Freshly Brewed Hype
Some things in life just don’t live up to their hype. Every time I go to the grocery store, which my wife assures me is much too infrequently, I pause on one of the aisles and inhale deeply. I’m instantly born up on a magic carpet ride of intoxication that lifts me to exotic places and distant memories. I’m on the coffee aisle. And as usual I feel gypped.
I remember spending the night with my grandparents when I was a kid and waking up to the wonderful smell wafting beneath my bedroom door. My grandparents would have been up for hours, the little radio on their kitchen counter squawking funny-sounding words I couldn’t understand, words that nevertheless made me feel safe and loved—the language of the Old Country, which in our case was Portuguese. Grandma served up pancakes, sausages and scrambled eggs, but it’s the coffee I remember most. I wasn’t allowed to have any.
Waiting for me on the kitchen table was a big steamy cup of hot chocolate, and it tasted fabulous. But it had very little smell. The house was permeated with the mind-altering fragrance of coffee, and I’d ask Grandma or Grandpa, “Can I have coffee instead of chocolate?”
“Not until you’re older,” they’d say.
I had to settle for chocolate, which was hardly horrible, but I’d ask myself: if chocolate has no smell but tastes this good, how much better must coffee taste? A heck of a lot better, I supposed.
The day came when I was permitted my first cup of steaming joe, and I savored the moment. I sniffed the fragrant heat rising from my cup, blew on it for a few moments, and then curled my lips on the cup’s rim for the experience of a lifetime. My days of coffee virginity had come to an end. I took my first sip.
C’mon now, admit it? If you’re like me, you enjoy a good hit of coffee and you probably manage to do so without the cream and tablespoons of sugar it took for me to down my first cup, but if you’re honest you’ll admit that your reaction to that first swallow of bitterness was: What a gyp!
Same with caviar.
Posted by Stephen Hayes