Friday, February 11, 2011

Hawaij

I like flavored coffee...but maybe not how you'd think.

Sometimes when I travel across the US,  it's hard to find coffee.  Actually, finding it isn't the problem. It's there...red can, blue can...with a reusable plastic lid. 

Once, however, in a shopping mall, I was startled by the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans.  On the chalkboard menu Iced Coffee sounded refreshing, as we were bundled up in winter clothes and the building's thermostat was set way too high.

"What flavor would you like?" 
Flavor?  None, just coffee...ice...maybe some half and half.
"All of our iced coffee is flavored...hazelnut, chocolate, almond." 
Vanilla seemed the least worst, until it was dispensed out of The Machine...a giant, spinning mess of coffee and "flavoring," pre-mixed with a dairy product...or non-...it was white.

Spending money on food and then throwing it away is probably some sort of sin.

I take inspiration from cultures that have historically used good, fresh spices to flavor their coffee.  In the Middle East it's cardamom...adding enough pods to tinge the coffee green is a sign of great hospitality.  Toasted, ground coriander seeds are delicious.  Our local bakery has staff from Mexico.  They like ground canela, or true cinnamon.  A long ago mentor used ground cassia, the more familiar form...a sweet and warm start to my early morning shift. 

I'm always searching for more ideas...traditions.  Stumbling upon Hawaij was cool.  It's a blend preferred by immigrants to Israel from Yemen.  Actually it's two different mixtures...one is savory...turmeric based...for soups and stews...but that's for another discussion.

Today's blend is for coffee...but it's harder to pin down.  Aniseed, ginger, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, fennel...all of these good spices are cited...but not their proportions.  One reference mentioned that Hawaij for coffee is not solely ginger, like you would assume.  Obviously ginger predominates.

I would enjoy fooling around with these delicious spices, developing my own house Hawaij blend...trial and error...all tasting good.  But, the anthropologist in me wouldn't be satisfied.  If only someone would publish a "real" recipe...a starting point...a template.

After that, the experimentation could begin...

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