April 30, 2010

Tasalagi Tale (3/9)

   We drove him home. It was then that his parents and my mom first met and quickly took a liking to each other. In no time flat they were chatting away like old friends and drinking Indian coffee in the Lightfoot's humongous mobile-home. What is Indian coffee you may ask?

   This I know from Billy who actually drank the stuff: Indian coffee, amongst the people living on the reservation, was a complex and involved ritual, and amidst the Lightfoots, it was a family tradition. Billy told me how his mother told him about her memories of her grandmother. It would seem that this venerable lady (Billy's great grandmother), who still lived on the reservation when Billy's mom was a little girl, would get up at the crack of dawn to prepare the coffee.

   It went like this: she would fetch the huge red enameled coffee pot, dump in a pack coffee beans, dump in a pack of sugar, and cover the whole thing with water and set it on the stove to simmer down all day only occasionally stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon. Sometime in the middle of the afternoon, she would plant the wooden spoon into the coffeepot and if it stayed put she would cackle and announce that the coffee was ready.

   According to Billy's mom, her grandmother's coffee was always thicker and better than her own. I, of course, had never seen this legendary coffee but I had witnessed Mrs. Lightfoot's coffee as she served my mother. I remember it as being as thick as sorghum and as black as molasses; I couldn't imagine what the elder Mrs. Lightfoot's coffee was like. Maybe instead of needing a spoon, as was the case with Mrs. Lightfoot's coffee, you would need a knife and fork -or maybe even a saw- to eat the elder Mrs. Lightfoot's coffee. I do say eat and not drink because you could chew on this coffee. Seriously, they boiled the stuff down to a thick dark sweet syrup and served it in cups by pouring boiling water over it.

   Billy loved the stuff and though I couldn't stand the taste of any coffee (still can't), strangely enough, it still smelled appallingly good to me. A mere whiff of it was enough make your mouth water and probably got you hyper for at least 24 hours.