Coffee Milk. It’s what’s for breakfast. Well, it was breakfast for us growing up in Louisiana. People around here are serious about their coffee, and it starts at a very early age.
I can remember spending the night with grandma as a little kid, and from my earliest memories, there was coffee milk at breakfast. Grandma would start with a tall glass and pour about two inches of hot, strong coffee into it. Next came pure cane sugar, a generous spoonful or two to offset the bitterness of the coffee. Finally, she would top it off by filling the rest of the glass with cold milk straight from the refrigerator. It was just enough so that I could still feel the warmth of the coffee, but the drink was cool enough to gulp down in large swallows, creamy and sweet.
But I never gulped my coffee down- oh, no! That would have been disrespectful of the ritual that is attached to drinking coffee in Louisiana. One doesn’t simply go for a visit to a friend’s house, you stop by for coffee. Coffee is an event, a tradition that goes far beyond just the sharing of a cup- similar in seriousness to taking tea in England. Coffee is to be savored and lingered over amidst conversation and relaxation, whether at the beginning of the day or as a rejuvenating pause in the afternoon. Every day has time for a coffee break.
So it was with my cafe au lait at grandma’s house. A second cup was not an option, and this was a treat reserved for those mornings when hyped-up children could be sent outside to play, so we learned to savor it.
At the bottom of the glass would always be the residue of that toast that didn’t quite make it out of the coffee and into my mouth. The
I was blessed to have both of my grandmothers within easy distance during my youth, and both of them made cafe au lait for us. I am proud to say that I have continued the tradition for my own grands, who ask for it whenever they are with me. I haven’t noticed them dunking toast in their glass, though. Maybe I’ll teach them to do that next time we visit…
Leave me a comment about a favorite childhood memory. Did you get to have coffee as a child? Do you give it to the children in your life now?