We, like many Americans, have a coffee maker. Just the basic “Black and Decker” brand, single carafe, 12 “cup” maximum creator of the tastiest black concoction known to man. Over the past two weeks we’ve been hitting it pretty strong, sometimes making two full carafes a day. It’s what keeps us going for now, and I say “for now” considering we tend to go through phases. For a little while it was soda, then I started pounding down Red Bull’s like it was in my blood.
The key component of our new found love for coffee is in the preparation, and I don’t mean the specifics. It’s not the water to grounds ratio, or the fact that we use specifically filtered water each time. It’s that our cute little all-American coffee maker has a special setting called “Auto”, whereby I can set my coffee maker to start brewing at whatever time of day without even having to touch it. Just load up the grounds, pour in the water, hit the auto button, and at 6:00AM on the dot it begins brewing. Before we’ve even gotten out of bed our fresh, filtered water coffee is ready for us. Yesterday night as I set it, as ritualistically as I have been doing lately, I felt a wave of disappointment.
As I stood there adjusting the time on the machine to the proper setting, I remembered years ago when my Dad passed down to me skills in the delicate art of the “French Press”. He had picked out his favorite coffee beans the day before, as fresh as he could get them. Then he ground them into his most desired consistency, before carefully pouring it into the press. After which you add the already boiling water and let brew. So on and so forth.
This is a process of love being put into a cup of coffee, and as we all know, when you love something enough it gives love back. When he showed it to me I had not yet become a regular coffee drinker, and when I did drink it, I added more sugar than was humanly safe to consume. I didn’t have an appreciation for it at all, especially the taste, but I held on to the knowledge of this process. It is what struck me the other day as I lazily put the pre-ground, overly manufactured, packaged for your convenience and packed full of caffeine beans into this express pod of coffee brewing technology.
People in countries less technologically sophisticated than ours (U.S.A.) put love into the food and drink that they make. In some places even, there isn’t a single fast-food “restaurant” in sight. These are the places where they slaughter the goat and cook it themselves by traditional means. In 2014 they still make pasta like their ancestors made it in 1814. This is why I believe they are more sound of body then 80% of we American’s. There is love and tradition in what they consume, they put in the time and effort.
Every so often, I make my own pasta. It’s a very basic recipe, and it takes time. I mix the dough together by hand, I knead it and work it using my whole upper body to get the right consistency. I sweat a bit while doing it (probably adds flavor), and my forearms are sore afterword. After it has set up a bit, I roll it out on the counter till I get the thickness I want. Then I cut it into wide strips with a pizza cutter, and feed it through a family heirloom. This heirloom is not old, my father bought it at some point and handed it down to me. “The Pasta Machine” is a hand-cranked device that thins out the dough even further (while keeping it all even) then slices it into strips of pasta at equal thickness and width. I take the larger strips that I rolled out earlier and hand-crank it through the machine. After cooking it up in boiling water (as one would do with any pasta) I coat it evenly in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and toss in fresh garlic that I have just roasted in pan on the stove while the noodles cooked.
It’s a basic concoction, but it’s one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made (another good one passed down from my Father). A perfect 10 score every time I make it. I stare at the “Pasta Machine” as it sits on the shelf, as it has for the past year, and cry a little bit inside. It’s time to start giving a shit about what I put in my body again. I’ve shown a bit of that in my preparation of chicken breasts lately (if you like you can contact me for the “recipe”) but I need to start thinking bigger, and not just for me, but my family as well.
Perhaps it’s time to “man up” and get my hands on a French Press, pick out some good beans, and put some love into life every morning. Till then……