Suggested Topic #3: "Coffee"
Ever since my teenage days, I've adored a good cup of coffee. Right from the beginning I drank it black, the stronger the better. It was a badge of honor before there was a Starbucks or Caribou on every corner. Out in the boondocks where I lived, you bought coffee at a diner or you drank it at home. Coffee was served black at our house. If you wanted it, you drank it that way. I felt infinitely cool when I downed a cup of thick black mud while all my friends gagged at the thought.
In my 20's and 30's, coffee was a bonding experience. When we went to our family cottage, one of the cherished rituals was to have your 2nd (or 7th) cup of coffee sitting together out on the front porch. My in-laws still made coffee with a percolator on a stove burner, and it was delicious. I shared many, many cups with them on weekend afternoons while cousins gathered and football ruled the TV. And as any pre-schooler's mother desperate for adult companionship can attest, having a friend over for a cup of coffee is like taking shelter from a storm.
By the time I was in my 40's, trendy coffee shops were all the rage. I can clearly remember the first time I had a cup of the burnt dirt known as Starbuck's morning blend. I quickly became a fan. I was still a black coffee purist, and a total coffee snob. No milk, no sugar, no cheap grocery store blend, and no flavored beans. The only exception I would make was to occasionally sprinkle some cinnamon over the freshly-ground beans before brewing to get just a hint of exotic taste without any extra calories (or to order one of those fancy after-dinner coffee drinks with three kinds of liquour that overpower the accompanying splash of Folgers).
And now I'm in my 50's, and somehow over the years I've been sucked into the fray. Those fancy coffee drinks were a little indulgence; a reward after a hard day. It started off innocently enough, just a small vanilla latte or a soothing chai tea here and there. I'd ask for fewer pumps of syrup to keep the sweetness down. I knew I could stop any time. I probably would be off the junk today if it wasn't for that insidious crack known as Coffee-mate. It comes in innocent little packages of decadant goodness like peppermint patty, Belgian chocolate toffee, caramel macchiato and about 20 other flavors. And they're everywhere - at the gas station, in the cafeteria at work, on the shelf in my kitchen cupboard...
If I'm going to make it to my 60's without a spare tire or clogged arteries, I am going to have to go back to my coffee roots. I just have to find a stove-top percolator.