Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March 21 - Delicious

Melbourne is the coffee capital of Australia. We take our coffee short, strong and very seriously. Don't bother arguing with me, it's so and that's final. Many people believe the coffee culture sprang during the 1950s and 60s with the arrival of southern European migrants who preferred coffee to tea, and roast-and-ground coffee to instant.

I've always liked that theory. My Greek mama shared her love of coffee with me when I was a student in high school. She'd bring me a cup of Turkish style blend in a demitasse cup each evening while I studied.

Imagine my delight when I discovered The Colonial Cookbook praise the richness of Melbourne's coffee establishments in the 19th century. Perhaps our post war Europeans had a head start, thanks to the refined customs of early Australian coffee connoisseurs. Here's what they had to say in 1870.

The coffee, as dispensed at the Cafe de Paris, at Melbourne...was unexceptionable in flavour, and served hot. The 'garcon' brought in a large sized white stone china cup and saucer, and after putting before the visitor, on a little marble table, a small basin of white crystallised sugar, the grains of which sparkled in the gaslight, proceeded to pour simultaneously into the cup two jets of coffee and milk from silver ewers. We question whether the city on the banks of the Seine could supply mocha better made or served, for the same price - sixpence. 

Who knows? Perhaps. What I do know, is how delicious it is to sit with my Beloved in a cafe somewhere, read the Melbourne Saturday papers and sip on a good coffee. Thanks to the great foundation laid by our colonialists and the equally fervent Europeans, we can enjoy a steaming cup of the world's best brews.

Little marble tables, crystallised sugars, gas light and silver ewers?  Could it get any more delicious?