Today I had my Creative Writing class write about food memories. (This was in part inspired by my own post about halvah a few days ago.) Because tonight is Parent-Teacher Conference night and because all week has been Parent-Teacher Conference week and because I am totally drained, I’m simply going to post my own free-write from today’s class, unedited. This feels like lazy blogging. I don’t care.
I hated coffee before we went to Greece. I thought it tasted bitter, like an old ashtray or some burnt wood.
At our small hotel in Santorini, we would sit on the deck off the office in the mornings and watch the sea. The hotel’s two young daughters would bring us small white mugs of coffee and practice their English.
It would have been impolite to refuse, to say no. I took the mug each morning and smiled. Thank you. I nodded and lifted the edge to my lips. I sipped hot ash.
By the third morning, I asked for iced coffee, extra milk, extra sugar. My husband laughed at my insistence on civility. Just tell them you don’t want any! I refused to reject their small browned faces.
The milk, the sugar, it masked the taste. It was liquid toast, roasted almonds, Mediterranean sunlight.
When we returned from Athens, back to Boston, I ventured to Dunkin Donuts and ordered a Coffee Coolatta.
But still, my tongue had grown accustomed to that fuzzy, heavy taste. Gradually, I could add less milk, less sugar. It even became part of my daily ritual. Open the coffeemaker, place the filter, scoop the grounds, fill the water. It became second-nature, like praying.
I still don’t like olives, though.