taste: now available sans snobbery

November 26, 2006 – 10:27 pm

“they’re leaves, and they fall off. once a year — when it gets cold.”

introducing the village woman, who was seeing her first skyscraper, her first frantic interstate and her first mass leaf exfoliation from outside the atlanta airport, about the basics of american excess — in a deliberate, logical fashion that made the most sense to her, not me — was not unlike broaching the wonders of the esmeralda gesha, say, with a beverage neophyte. all narrative and demonstration, not numbers and the baddest facts. a gratuitous analogy? why, yes! it’s what this blog does best! (besides, you know, vanishing for extended periods, and on the heels of a fresh batch of cheery fan mail.)

one of our excuses: the emigre’, who arrived on the tail end of of something like 38 straight hours of traveling, droopy and wasted despite the throngs around her, the fresh outrage of a lost piece of luggage and the marvels of automatic doors and 80-mile-an-hour speeds. she comes from my parents’ village in chad — possibly the world’s most corrupt place — referenced on this blog once before. she’d never seen the inside of a grocery store. never a microwave. never the game we call football. and not a scratch of english to her name. BUT. she brought an inbred affinity for the brew, or the over-seared, fruity-ferment cameroonian tripe they sell over there in tricolor bags best used as termite-repellent hut bricks. that, and nescafe.

so, then: sometime after her first trip to a wal-mart, after a hearty round of laughter at our machine-fed laziness (really! a dedicated appliance for doing dishes! ha! what were we thinking!) and maybe some ice cream, this blog got around to offering a good capp. afin que tu puisse gouter l’essence de l’esprit humain, we said, just to ratchet up the expectations another notch. and really — at this juncture, we should pause and explain how these people drink their beverages.

first month in chad, in 1999. doing outdoor menial work with the natives. 115 degrees, no a.c. the blogmom, she being the quick study in local customs, approached with a tray of piping hot tea. it made you cooler, they said of this boiling astringent tooth-rot. she has several teacups, one china sugar bowl. first guy, he picks up the bowl, dumps the entire thing in his cup and says, merci. as if he’d just borrowed a hanky. from which both this blog and its blogmom surmised (we being quick studies like that) that these people, they like their sweetener granules. from then on, it was sirop de the, daily at least. from which shock this blog’s teeth now gladly endure spro stains without a grumble.

all this to say: she inhaled the capp without sweetener. took one sip, declared it eminently delectable. altered her cultural habits at the first experience of transcendent goodness. sang an aria! pledged allegiance to the flag! did we mention the sight of latte art caused her to instantly to speak english? we didn’t? well, it was olde english! in iambic tetrameter! clearly, when it comes to evangelization contra-establishment, this blog has been missing the proverbial boat. emigres, man! hand them a brew like it’s america the liquid! imprint them before they find the faux-maternal mermaid! what, we ask, could be a more profoundly efficient way to indoctrinate the masses? they call this place a melting pot? what about a blend, a mottled fusion of origins? add yours, sir. then stir.

*sigh* we were just sort of warmed by the experience, that’s all. no training wheels necessary. meanwhile, the indigenous imbiber, she keeps asking for more. is crashing the english courses. might get an extended visa. wants a sociology degree. can’t believe how nice everybody is here.

and then the weekend word: rebels marching on her capital.