You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘coffee’ tag.

So I recently spent a week in Philadelphia. Now I’ve traveled a fair bit in my time, but not extensively in the US. I mostly only know the West Coast. Philly is like a whole different country.

Here are some random thoughts:

1. Styrofoam what??? Isn’t it illegal? I thought only barbarians were still using it, but we were served by perfectly nice people who seemed to think it was okay. It’s not okay, Philly. Not okay.

2. Coffee WHA???? People people people. Folgers is not coffee. Dunkin’ Donuts is not only grammatically egregious, (do they mean dunking doughnuts? Why name a business a gerund?) but their coffee, um, sucks. Good coffee is hard to find in this city of brotherly love. Maybe they feel caffeine would ruin things, but I find it hard to love my fellow man without some decent brew sloshing about inside me. And bad coffee served in Styrofoam? Ouch. It was hard not to take it personally, like they were telling me to take my European coffee and snort it up my nose.

3. Ok, all the old brick buildings are super cool. And the murals? Yes. The murals are super super cool.

4. LOVE the old stone churches, although seriously, you’ve got a LOT. I feel like every time they gathered 3 or more people together, they decided they needed to put up another large stone ediface. Literally ever other block seemed to have one.

5. Speaking of people, Philadelphians in general live up to their city’s name. They are friendly and full of advice. Another thing, everybody has a favorite deli, and if you are wondering what it is, just ask. One man explained that the deli where we were all waiting for our sandwiches was where he came for his deli sandwiches, but, he muttered behind his hand, there was another deli where you should go for your cheesesteaks. He was a large black man who barely fit in the deli’s one chair, where he was waiting. He told us about the best Philly cheesesteak sandwich in the city. “Now you are your wife should share one,” he told Donn. “I can eat a whole one, but that’s not a skill you want to acquire.” The train conductor had a completely different place he recommended for cheesesteaks. We did our best, but there is a limited number of large sandwiches one couple can eat. Perhaps if we’d split up?

6. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it seemed perhaps a lot of people had acquired the skills necessary to eat the entire cheesesteak sandwich.

7. All the old rowhomes are pretty cool too. The neighbourhoods have a lot of character.

8. There is a palace downtown. I never did figure out what it was being used for. Do we have royalty here? Maybe it’s where visiting royalty stay? They were doing some sort of renovation. I did look for signs.


9. Of course the historical part is fascinating, although since we were in meetings all day, the best we could do was go downtown via subway once we got out and wander round looking at the outsides of things, since places were closed. I didn’t mind. We did visit once before, years ago, and got to go inside places.


10. Ethnic restaurants. I thought Portland was pretty good, but no, we are a cultural wasteland. We ate Punjabi food and Moroccan food and, best of all, Senegalese food. I was excited and kept texting the kids, who requested that I bring them some in my suitcase. Um, no. The Yassa Poulet (pictured below) was super-oily, just like it should be. They also had great bissop (a sort of tea made from steeping dried hibiscus flowers) AND really yummy spicy ginger juice, just like Howa used to make it.

I haven’t had Senegalese food since we left Mauritania in 2007. That’s a long time without good Yassa. We even met a Mauritanian man in the restaurant! (Aside: for newer readers, we lived in Mauritania which is just north of Senegal, and they share a lot of the same cuisine, and we vacationed in Senegal where we would buy Yassa from women cooking in on the beach in the evenings.) But, of course, mostly we ate hoagies. They get their own post, coming soon.


(Insert usual whining about lack of actual camera and limitations of iPhone, which really I am super thankful for. I love my smart phone)

I’m pretty sure I have more thoughts, but that’s all I can remember right now. Have you ever been to Philly? What did you think? Where was your favorite deli? Did you have a different favorite deli for hoagies and for cheesesteaks? Can you eat an entire sandwich? Don’t worry; we won’t judge.

Two great loves in my life are coffee and my laptop. Given that I spend hours drinking one while typing or reading on the other, it’s amazing I’ve never tried to combine them before.

On Saturday Ilsa was sick, and she and Abel were watching some show on Netflix, can’t remember which, and I was looking at the TV as I set my cup of coffee on the stool that serves as an end table. Just below was my laptop, sitting on its side so that we’d see it easier. (We got in the habit of doing this when Donn had a laptop with an overheating problem, but it works well when laptops are set on the floor) Somehow, I missed the table, and the coffee poured gently into all the openings (orifices?) on the upright side of the computer. It entered the place where you plug in the cord. It entered the USB slot. It entered this other…slot…for …something? I have no idea what went there, but I do know it used to have something in it and it’s lost now.

My computer isn’t new, but it’s not that old. It’s about 70 in people years. (I figure one people year is about 12 in computer years. What do you think?) We got it in 2007. But it’s been through a lot. It’s crashed several times and traveled all over and had viruses and been entirely reformatted at least twice. Worldwide travel is rough on laptops, I can attest. The speakers don’t work and it’s very slow and has plenty of issues, but it is mine.

It seemed to be entirely dead, but Donn said to wait. And last night, he plugged it in and managed to get it going again! However, it seems to have developed a certain, well, senility. And that’s maybe not surprising. 70 in people years isn’t that old, but when one’s health wasn’t good to start with, it can be. I was trying to come up with an equivalent. After all, pouring coffee into one’s ear would be unpleasant, but I don’t think it would cause too much damage? Maybe this is like a broken hip? What do you think?

The computer, bless it, thought it was January 1, 2007. I tried to go on Facebook and it explained that was impossible, because FB’s certificate was dated with the imaginary date of June 20, 2012. I had to manually scroll through all the months from Jan 07 to Dec 12, to reset the date. It’s forgotten how to open google reader. It proudly tells me it has 116 hours of battery power left, which, not to put too fine a point on it, it doesn’t. The battery on this thing lasts about 2 minutes and 20 seconds, during which time whoever is using it freaks out and frantically plugs it back in. Now it is plugged in, but it doesn’t realize it and thinks it’s running off battery. Really, it’s rather sweet, this unexpected belief in its own prowess.

It’s even slower and creakier, and keeps flashing a red light at me too. But that’s okay. At least it’s back, with me for just a little while longer. I’m just grateful for this extra time I have with it, however long. I don’t mind if it tells me it’s its birthday, or tells me it’s late for the school bus. Bless it.

Tonight at about 8 we went over to visit an Iraqi couple. They’re in their mid-70s and they are just awesome–they might take lots of pills and afternoon naps, but they are adventuresome. They go for drives, stop at farmer’s markets to chat with people, take food to the fire station next door. “You know, they are there sometimes 2 or 3 nights, away from their home,” they tell us. “So we take them food. They love Iraqi food!” One of their neighbours helped the woman bring in groceries from the car, so they took them a big platter of food too. And I realize, talking about this, that I’ve forgotten once again to bring back the plate from the last time she brought me food.

They are the ones who tell me they wish they’d moved to America 20 years ago. But they were afraid to come, expecting all America to be as represented by Hollywood. “We thought people crashed cars every day, there were chases, U-turns, crazy,” they tell us. “But the driving here is very safe.” And they tell me of a shortcut they take to a mutual friend’s house, over a small mountain, the road curvy and windy and dark at night but still safe, cars slowing down for the turn, not like back home.

We arrive about 8 and they say, “Tea or coffee?” Coffee, I tell them. For some reason, those tiny cups of sweet Turkish coffee don’t keep me up as much as the cups of strong black tea. They give me a little boost of energy, but I can usually sleep by midnight or one. In fact, I have noticed that I seem to sleep better after Turkish coffee.

But the woman decides to make tea first. So we have it, delicately scented and lightly sweetened, because she lets me add my own sugar. They tend to fill the cup halfway with sugar and then saturate it with tea. I don’t stir tea like that, and I can feel my teeth growing furry as I drink it. I don’t like very sweet drinks. But when Iraqi chai is done right, it is a delightful drink. They use black tea and add cardamom.

I drink my tea and turn down the cakes I’m being offered. Since this couple is elderly she doesn’t do a lot of baking, and these are generic Twinkies wrapped in plastic. I claim fullness, murmur about my diet. They shrug and let it go.

About an hour later, she notices me stifle a yawn and asks her husband to go make coffee. This is the one thing he can do in the kitchen, he tells us. I send Donn with him to learn. The coffee is exquisite–again made with cardamom. I have learned to make decent Turkish coffee, but I learn anew how far I still have to go to be a true master. Mistress. Mistress of Turkish Coffee. A title I could live with.

Now it’s 11 and we’re home but pretty wide awake. Tea AND coffee, all in the space of a 2 hour visit. I’m still tired from a white night on Friday and a long day on Saturday that involved a birthday party for 2 Iraqi women, mother and (grown) daughter, both good friends. That party started with cake and Mountain Dew served in crystal wine glasses, and ended up at Hometown Buffet which is one of those restaurants where you serve yourself from an enormous variety of dishes. They were surprised when I didn’t have more Coke or dessert. “It’s included in the price,” they assure me, but I point out that I’d already HAD dessert. Life may be short, but I prefer my dessert later or not at all.

This is Turkish coffee that I (remember, I the Mistress of Turkish coffee) made, served in cheap cups bought in Morocco. The tablecloth is from Mauritania. Picture by my friend Sheri.

Do you like Turkish coffee? What’s the latest you can drink it and be asleep by midnight?

November 2022

I’m now also at:

A Perfect Post – January 2007

Blog Stats

  • 348,549 hits


<a href="">
Expat Women - Helping Women Living Overseas
living in Morocco

Books recently read:

Elizabeth Jones 's  book recommendations, reviews, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists
No Princess Alone button