Sunday, September 11, 2011

Don't Mess with the Amazon's Morning Ritual

I've never really thought of myself as a creature of habit. There once was a time when my husband, then my boyfriend, would mourn the meal we just ate, because he thought it was delicious, but he knew he would never have it again. I was known for making a recipe only once, and then moving on to the next exciting possibility. I was always looking for the 'best' recipe. The best oatmeal cookies, the best way to cook salmon, the best steak marinade, the best cake.... I was also on the lookout for the 'best' ingredients: the best butter, the best coffee, and so on.

The challenge with constantly searching for the 'best' (and of course 'best' is subjective according to my own tastes, and may not be everyone's favourite or anyone else's definition of 'best') is that eventually you find it, and then everything beyond that pales in comparison. And while I love finding the pinnacle of whatever I am searching for at the time, the fact remains that from then on, unless I keep using/eating/cooking that pinnacle, I will always be disappointed.

This was brought home to me in a painful way this morning when I discovered we were out of sugar for my coffee. Over the past several years I have narrowed my requirements for coffee. After a couple of years as a graduate student where I was so addicted to coffee that I would drink a pot and then fall asleep on the couch at 10am rather than do my required reading, I entered the office environment. After a couple of years in an office with typically awful coffee, I weaned myself off it completely in favour of tea, because I couldn't bring myself to drink bad coffee. At that point, I only drank coffee I enjoyed, mostly on weekends, or purchased espresso drinks from local coffee shops.

More recently, I have honed my requirements even more. We drink a couple of blends, depending on where we can get to when we're out of coffee. I'm quite pleased with Kicking Horse coffee, and prefer the Kootenay Crossing blend. It is bold and full bodied, but not at all bitter or acidic. We also pick up a specific half and half blend of fair trade organic Sumatran/Guatemalan blend from McQuarrie's Tea and Coffee Merchants, whenever we're on Broadway. And I brew it strong. Then I add Sucanat, organic raw sugar cane, which, with the molasses still intact, offers a nice full, round, mellow sweetness that makes normal white sugar taste flat in comparison. I follow that with a large teaspoonful of the uber-rich farm cream that we have sourced and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

When we realized we were out of Sucanat, the coffee had already been poured. My husband looked at me with something akin to fear behind his eyes, and he asked, speaking rather quickly, "We'reoutofSucanatwhatareyougoingtouseinstead,honey?" (the 'honey' was referring to sweetener, not a pet name). I opted for brown sugar, and didn't freak out as much as hubbie had feared, thinking that the brown sugar would be too similar to Sucanat for me to notice the difference. Well, I was wrong. The coffee was sub-par because the sweetness was different, and I was left not only disappointed in my morning cuppa, but also wondering how/when I had become so set in my ways.

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