Usually, during the Lenten season, I give up my addiction to coffee. It is a tough sacrifice to make, for forty days, but I usually am able to give it up. After enduring daily headaches Easter Sunday is welcome. I can’t wait to get a hold of a hot cup of fragrant Joe.
This year I chose to give up something different; acts of service, busy-ness. I hadn’t realized how difficult this would be and how it impacts my life. I can’t help it, really. I am a very bodily-kinesthetic person aka busy-body; always in motion, my mind going a million miles per minute. I am married to my exact opposite, a type B personality. Coffee gives me great focus and is said to help with ADHD; (I’m telling you, I must not have been diagnosed). The way I define my life is by productivity within the confinements of time. If I am unproductive, with nothing to show for it, it is a bad, unfulfilling day. Thus, I have to do works.
But how productive is this, really? I spend so much time servicing others that I don’t fill my own cup. I guess that’s how burn-out begins and it becomes the daily grind. Dave likes to remind me that I serve others before my own family. But as of late I’ve realized, I serve others even before myself. And who is this guy who I share my home with? I can easily find time for: the kids, school, friends; but not for my own husband, or myself?!
Surprisingly, this revelation came to me as I obsessed about Ethiopian coffee. Yesterday I finished a very absorbing book by Abraham Verghese entitled, Cutting for Stone. The descriptive tome was set in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. The author’s writing style had me Yelping Ethiopian cuisine and scouring for recipes online. Dave reminded me that we had shared Ethiopian cuisine in Chicago; the one year I spent in medical school.
I read this book over the course of a few days. I was not happy with the anticlimactic ending. I could’ve done without the didactic prose and the lengthy surgical techniques. But the setting and story made this historical fiction novel worth the read. I loved this book!
Last night, I printed the recipe for kahawa; an Ethiopian coffee from The Congo Cookbook. When we read the, very simple, recipe Dave remarked, Ethiopians don’t have coffee. I was in the midst of making pancakes, for the second night, for a PTA function the next morning. So much for not performing acts of service.
So I read, with great glee, that coffee’s caffeinating effects were first observed in Kaffa, an Ethiopian province. The word coffee is said to come from this root word. The coffee ceremony is one of the most recognized rituals to Ethiopian and Eritrean culture! We had an Ethiopian vegetable stew and after another night of food experimentation, the boys asked if they could eat the pancakes instead (emphatic “No!”) When can we have normal food again?
For me, a book is really great, when it makes me want to learn and try something new. The Space Between Us made me yearn for Indian cuisine, Snowflower and the Secret Fan had me craving Chinese. The Omnivore’s Dilemma made me discover a farm co-op and the Slow Food Movement in America. The Kite Runner and Three Cups of Tea made me want to learn about the Middle East and Afghanistan. Thus, Cutting for Stone has rekindled that same caffeine high for Ethiopia.
My desire for Ethiopian coffee, last night, brought Dave and I to our Friday date day. This morning we sat across from each other; he drinking his cinnamon cafe mocha, myself, a non-fat cappuccino. For a number of years my focus has been on kids, kids, kids. Today we shared our love of literature, history and food.
After coffee and breakfast we sauntered through two different, ethnic markets. I triumphantly left the first with a, surprisingly, expensive can of Turkish coffee grounds and my coveted Darjeeling tea. From the second market we emerged with Assam tea. We slowly walked the compact rows of the grocers the way we used to walk the spacious aisles in Home Depot. Instead of dreaming about a home and home ownership, we spoke of cultures afar; the places we’d travel and the places we’ve been.
Later in the day, I sat with my eldest son at my favorite local coffee house, Dripp. I finally tried the affogato; an Italian word used to drown ice cream with espresso while he ate his ice cream sandwich. Heaven. Not only did I fill my cup but I actually enjoyed it too. Coffee definitely perc’ed (as in percolator) me up all day.