What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it. – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
My nonna started from scratch. Ground the coffee beans so that they went into the caffetiera rough. Wound the waist of the Bialetti caffetiera so that it looked as if she was tightening a belt. Popped the caffetiera on the stove.
Black ooze went up the spine of the lady and fountained out.
A small stainless steel pot over a flame. Milk frothed up warm.
Black ooze went in with white warmth while a flame flickered.
A bowl on the table. Inside the bowl, day-old bread.
When she poured hot caffe latte over the bread, the bread went soft.
On top of the bread, a sprinkling of raw sugar.
Her hands rubbed together: “Oh, how I love my leche.”
In those days and years that followed, I took the word leche to mean sweets. No one ever mentioned that leche might have a more particular meaning.
Today I fill the skirt of the caffeteria with a slightly adjusted mix of ground coffee beans: two-thirds full-strength, one-third decaf.
I place the caffetiera on the stove. Warm liquid oozes up its spine.
I keep my bread and my coffee separate. I eat gluten-free bread from an eatery down the road. The bread has been baked so that it stands high and soft. It does not need to be toasted, but I toast it.
In my quiet kitchen I hear the voices of days long past. My nonno’s voice as he sits at the table before walking out to tend to the vegetable plot. A sigh for sleep that has been had and the day that is to come. ‘A si e.’