This morning I’m talking to a group of older adults about A World Worth Saving. Tonight I’ll teach the first chapter of the book in an adult formation series. I’m looking forward to these events.
I’ve been working on another small book. One of my friends who has the delightfully improbable name of George Donigian, though we are unrelated beyond the bond that exists among all Armenians and all humans, reminded me of the wisdom of Ernest Hemingway concerning first drafts and revisions. Last week I wrote at least three new versions of the introductory chapter for the new book and still none of them seemed right.
Friday night I drank a cup of Armenian coffee, read the most recent version, and asked what was wrong with it. Inspiration hit! Maybe the inspiration came in the sweetness of the coffee. Maybe it came as I read the coffee grounds that remained in the bottom of the cup. I made a couple of notes and wrote the 29th version of that introductory chapter Saturday morning and it now seems right.
Drinking Armenian coffee and reading or talking seems normal. Did you know that the first coffee house in Vienna was opened in 1685 by an Armenian? Known as Diodato the spy because of his work at the Austrian Imperial Court, his real name was Owanes Astouatzaturian. I hear people complain about the strength of coffee from Starbucks and some other shops. They must never have drunk Armenian coffee, known as soorj. The first tradition around this coffee begins with making it properly. My recipe calls for one cup of cold water, three tablespoons pulverized coffee, and two tablespoons sugar. (I don’t make it as sweet as many Armenians.) Combine the three ingredients in a soorjaman, a long-handled brass coffeepot. Bring the coffee to a state of foaming (a near-boil) and remove from the heat momentarily. Put the pot back on the heat again and then remove it as the coffee foams more or returns to that near-boil. Remove the pot and then bring the coffee to a near-boil a third time. Coffee is ready. Pour the coffee carefully into small cups so that each cup contains some of the foam that builds on top of the soorj. Enjoy and then slide the saucer over the cup and turn it upside down. Wait until the cup cools and then read the grounds, which look like the basis of the Rorschach inkblots. Maybe Hermann Rorschach was inspired by a visit to an Armenian coffee house.
Enough Armenian coffee lore for now. Time to return to that last review of the new book manuscript.