I don’t drink coffee. Scream, squeal, and sneer all you want, but I’m not changing my mind. I’m a jittery anxiety ridden spaz as it is and I’m not looking to add any extra fuel to the fire, but there are two exceptions that warrant the occasional dabble.
Coffee, in an Italian coffee shop, in Italy, made with an Italian attention to ritual is something I can never turn down. More than the taste it’s the ritual itself that has me risking extra caffeinated super overdrive. I like the tiny ceramic cups with matching wee saucers and spoons just longer than a pinky finger and real honest to God whole milk. If that’s not a religion to be worshipped, I don’t know what is.
Arabic coffee is my other exception. Now like foul, Arabic coffee means something different depending on who you’re talking to. The only place I’ve had it is at the Kharouba* household in Yonkers, NY. So to me Arabic coffee is a thick, rich brew, seasoned with that licorice-like flavor of ground cardamom and sweetened with sugar. It’s served at the kitchen table, to whomever is in earshot which could mean all seven of the Kharouba children depending on the day. I only have one brother myself, but I love big families. Arabic coffee is a treat for me because I like to pretend I understand Arabic and I like Mrs. Kharouba’s jokes. I like people talking over each other and I like the idea of coming together for bits of time even if there only a few sips long.
*Who are the Kharoubas? Sabrina Kharouba is one of my roommates from Rome. Visiting her family gives me a break from hectic NYC. Both of her parents are Palestinian so when I go, I get to eat homemade Arab food and learn a bit about the culture.