In the US, I wasn't exactly a coffee snob, but I liked my fresh ground coffee dripping into my cup every morning. And maybe a few times each morning. And maybe with peppermint-flavored coffee creamer thrown in for good luck.
When I first arrived in Israel, in fact, ground coffee was one of the things I desperately missed-- I didn't feel the right buzz from instant coffee, which is all that was available in my husband's aunt and uncle's house. My husband earned huge points when he found me a French press in a department store, and I started preparing Turkish coffee in a French press every morning. It wasn't quite fresh drip, but it was pretty good. Already, though, my slippery slope into Israeli coffee drinking had begun-- for some reason, Turkish coffee tastes better without milk (but with plenty of sugar). For the first time in my life, I started to drink my coffee black.
Then I broke the glass part of the French press, so I started making Turkish coffee the Israeli way-- heating up the grounds in a little finjan (a saucepan, basically) on the stove. Ok, it wasn't totally authentic, because I wouldn't cool down my coffee and reheat it several times until it had truly become black sludge. But I used enough grounds that my coffee could still corrode metal.
Then I decided that maybe it WASN'T such a good thing that my hands were shaking for hours after my morning cup-- or two-- of Turkish coffee. I also decided that Turkish coffee is a huge pain to clean up, because rather than be filtered out, the grounds collect in the bottom of the finjan, the cup, and (of course) my sink when I tried to clean everything out.
So finally... somehow... I have become an instant coffee drinker, like most Israelis. In fact, you can go to coffee shops and order Nescafe (or in more generic terms, cafe namess). Somehow, this country of caffeine addicts subsists on expensive espresso and instant coffee with very little in between. So here I am, on the watery and light side (until I add in that extra spoonful of instant coffee granules, and plenty of milk and sugar)... maybe I really have become Israeli!
Oh, a word to the wise: if you want to order a latte equivalent in an Israeli coffee shop, it's called a "cafe hafooch"-- an upside-down coffee. I was mystified about this at first and used to just order whatever the person ahead of me in line had ordered. **Update-- Miriam offers a convincing explanation in the comments of why "cafe hafooch" is called what it is! **
What War Zone???, a hilarious blog about life as an oleh, is hosting Havel Havelim this week. (Actually, technically Benji is hosting. As far as I know, his blog doesn't spontaneously generate its own content. Although that would be cool.) Check it out!
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