Thursday, February 21, 2008

Over a cuppa....

I was introduced to coffee drinking after marriage. Not that we did not have coffee at home. We did, but it was prepared differently. I was told that the family (in laws) had settled for packaged coffee powder by then, otherwise it had to be coffee seeds freshly roasted and ground each day and then powdered and placed in the coffee filter over which boiling water was poured, and as it passed through the powder it would absorb the flavour and drip into the container below. Once the coffee was made it was poured into a steel tumbler and placed in a davara . The coffee would be poured from tumbler to davara till a nice froth was built up.

The present day coffee pub culture is a source of wonder. The kind of coffee that is served - all flavours - and at exorbitant prices . At some places we would scald our tongue on hot coffee ( imagine drinking hot coffee with a straw!) and then on our way out ring the bell to tell them that we thought it was an amazing experience!! We ( read oldies) have realised now that these places are for the young and not for the serious coffee drinker.

We have over a period of time turned into tea drinkers. And our tea is more like boiling water with a dash of sugar and milk but having the strong flavour of the tea leaf.

I cannot remember when I started drinking tea or coffee. We had specific times for it at home ( when I was young). And it was served in bone china cups with saucers. All this has now given way to the mug. And colourful ones of different sizes!
Our favourite beverage was the buttermilk ( thaak - buttermilk in konkani). There was a huge ceramic container in which some curd or the previous day's buttermilk was placed and then milk was added to it and churned. Periodically warm water would be added till the butter seperated at the top. This was carefully collected and used for applying on the slice of bread, or when a sufficient amount was amassed it was heated to get ghee. The flavour of home made butter and ghee is hard to beat. We now depend on salted butter and bottled ghee! Once butter was seperated the watery buttermilk was poured into a container and we had this with all the meals. On hot summer days when we came home there would be the familiar glass jug with diluted salted buttermilk seasoned with mustard, corriander, and for the added flavour there would be finely chopped green chillies and a dash of asafoetida ( which was thought to be good for digestion). On even hotter days we were given ragi malt to drink since it was supposed to have a cooling effect.
My mother, always was one for experimenting with food. And she would serve us delicious milk shakes. One of our favourites was a banana milk shake to which drinking chocolate was added. We christened this drink the Chocoban.
Of late,despite all the hoolabuloo of pesticide residue in cola drinks, I have taken a liking for them. I find it rather soothing when I have the dreaded headache ( migrane?). The carbonated fizz does wonders. And to think that it was a prohibited drink at home when my kids were young as I strongly believed they were a source of empty calories ( with no worthwhile nutrient content). I still maintain the empty calorie bit, but for the relief it provides I am willing to overlook it all.

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