My very first coffee experience was sitting around a small kitchen table with my family at my grandparent’s house, having just finished the typical 3-hour Sunday meal. We had worked laboriously through the antipasti platter of select meats and cheeses, bowls of rich minestrone, piping hot polenta with rabbit ragu…then, of course, the roasted chicken, potatoes and carrots. Then finally, in a surprise twist, my Nona slides a blue plastic coffee cup in front of me to pair with my chocolate chip biscotti (actually, Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies in the shape of traditional biscotti).
I looked up, stunned that I was being served coffee alongside the adults. I’m no more than five years old.
I peer into the cup. It was mostly milk, sugar and just enough coffee to warm things up and make it brown. My Nona urges me to dip the biscotti into the brew (the Italian genius-ness of making a cookie shaped for dipping is not lost on me), which softens the cookie and transforms it into something from heaven. I eagerly sip away at the remains of the brew until I discover another surprise at the bottom of the cup. Little bits of cookie—butter, flour, chocolate—all huddled together in this dreamy little personal dolce.
My life changed.
While I now regard anything spilled or dipped into my coffee as a pollutant, that early memory of Sunday evening coffee at Nona’s is a cherished part of my past.