Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Vacation, Coffee, and Me By Connie Vines

'A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.'  

From the Urban Dictionary:   

Coffee snob

1- An individual who cares about what coffee or coffee mix drink they put in their mouth. A coffee snob is not okay with Starbucks, or Tim Hotrons, or Dunkin Doughnuts, or McDonald's (including McD's--my clarification)...etc.

2- A coffee snob would rather drink water than drink old coffee. An anal coffee snob will not drink the coffee if it needs milk and anything more than 1 tsp of sugar.

3- A coffee snob supports local roasters and refuses to drink Folgers, Maxwell House, or any other pre-ground non-fresh coffee--including instant.

"Hey, you want some coffee?" 
"What do you have?"
"Instant and Folgers."
"Umm... You got water?" 
"Oh. You must be a coffee snob, huh?"
"Yes, sorry."

While on most family vacations my ‘purest’ stance was a bit of a pain for my two children and husband (who doesn't care what the blend the coffee is as long as it’s throat burning hot).   However, when we vacationed in Louisiana (my husband’s home state), to his amazement, I never once voiced a complaint or dumped a full cup of coffee on the asphalt outside of a fast-food establishment (near the shrubbery—I am not without sensitivity) after being served a cup of coffee.

I savored.  I sipped. I was thrilled the morning I was awaken by the fragrance of hot, rich coffee. My husband and children walked over the Café de Monde at sunrise and brought coffee and beignets (still warm in the trademark paper bag) to our hotel room.

And at that moment, sipping coffee and munching on warm beignets, I became a New Orleans, French Quarter, coffee snob. Think: steaming mug, lazy strains of jazzy trumpets and the scent a gulf breeze, and powdered sugar.

Unless you have been to New Orleans and experienced café au lait, it’s difficult to understand why a cup of coffee could equal such bliss.  Unlike the coveted slice of French bread from San Francisco (yes, it really is unique when dining on the bay), or stone crab in Florida, or Montana huckleberries—these flavors can’t be packaged or frozen, or duplicated. The French Quarter coffee, however, can be purchased in supermarkets, or online. 

However, French Quarter coffee is cut with chicory. 

So what the heck is chicory?  Chicory, the knobby core at the base of an endive plant, roasted and ground (it has a sweet tobacco-smoke aroma) and mixed with coffee. When mixed with fresh ground coffee, the chicory adds that same dried-fruit sweet-sourness to the cup up front, and lightens the body with a "mellowing" effect.

Like countless writers before me I found New Orleans inspiring, magical, and seeped with history.  Jackson Square, a paddle boat ride up the Mississippi, St. Charles Street, surrey rides, walking the Quarter at night, dining, music and talking to residents of the city—it is wonderful to see how the city has re-emerging from the tragic consequences of Katrina.   And like many authors who have visited or lived within the city, a story that’s root inside your physic—a story which demands to be told.

And while I plot and polish my anthology that is set in New Orleans, I listen to jazz on Slacker radio and slip hot chicory coffee from my Café du Monde mug.

My home brew may not quite obtain the ‘perfection’ of a mug of coffee I sipped on vacation in New Orleans, I can console myself with a visit to the Blue Bayou Café at Disneyland when writer’s block nips at my heels.  There, seated at a waterfront table set with: white linen table cloth, china, goblets and ornate silverware, I watch the “Pirates of Caribbean” boat passengers as they float by.  I can hear croaking frogs and the soft strains of jazz trumpets from Jackson Square while twinkling fire-flies enhance my illusion of ‘bayou darkness’.  And for one magical moment, I am back in New Orleans.



Cafe du Monde



Steel Magnolias
Motion Picture
(not taken in New Orleans--this is near my husband's home town)


·        Author’s note: I do enjoy and indulge in Starbucks coffee.


Happy Reading,
Connie



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