May-June-2017_flipbook Revised

the Coffee issue

Cajun Coffee by Marcelle Bienvenu

E very morning of my childhood, I awoke to the aroma of coffee brewing. More often than not, it was my mother who heated up the kettle and spooned dark roast, pure coffee into her white enamelware French drip coffeepot. When the kettle whistled, announcing that the water was boiling, she patiently spooned the hot water into the top of the pot, waiting as the water slowly seeped through the coffee grounds. It required the patience of Job.The first pot was consumed in a plain white demitasse (a small coffee cup) by Mama and Papa in the quiet of the kitchen, then the procedure was repeated before my siblings and I were roused from our beds. Our demitasse of coffee had a demitasse

coffee mug to be found in Mama’s cabinets. The coffee was strong (almost akin to espresso), and Mama alleged that no one could have an entire mug of the syrupy brew, else their hair would stand on end. We never had any kind of electric coffeepot in the house. According to the authors (of which I am one) of Stir the Pot: the History of Cajun Cuisine , “Coffee is one of the foundations of traditional Cajun foodways.” Anyone who came for a visit was offered a demitasse of coffee. In fact, I remember Mama having a small tray on the counter that was always set with two or three of the plain white demitasse cups, a small sugar bowl and a creamer ready for service at any time.

coffee spoonful of raw sugar (from a nearby sugar mill) and a drizzle of warmed, canned Carnation® brand evaporated milk. There were times when coffee milk (café au lait) was consumed. Again, only pure dark roast coffee (no chicory) was combined with hot milk or cream to pour over a bowl of couche-couche (fried cornmeal). Of course, it was always a treat to indulge in beignets and café au lait at Café de Monde when we visited New Orleans, although I found the coffee with chicory a bit bitter for my taste. We eventually did graduate to a larger coffeepot, which allowed Mama to brew only one pot per day, but we continued to have demitasse portions. There was nary a



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