Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Make Mine a Double

Here I am at the coffee shop, and yet again, here is the anorexic-looking woman who seems to follow me to coffee shops all over the country to stand in front of me and order her decaf soymilk latte. All right, I have to admit I am very biased here. I’m someone who, even though I drink soymilk, cook with it, and pour it on my cereal, can’t stand the idea of putting it in her coffee (having made the mistake of trying it not once, but twice, to “make sure it was as bad as I thought it was the first time”). In fact, if truth be told, I’m someone who, if she can’t have half and half (or if really desperate, whole milk) in her coffee, would rather not drink it at all. Therefore, you won’t be the least bit surprised to hear me say that Ms. Anorexic’s order is one that, to me, defeats the whole purpose. If you are going to order a latte, it should be the real thing: whole milk and caffeine. Lovely, frothy creaminess with that guaranteed wake-you-up buzz. Otherwise, why bother?

I know. I know. Some militant vegans are about to crucify me (note I said some. I am not insinuating that all vegans are militant, most especially since about half my meals these days are vegan, and I’ve had plenty of absolutely lovely vegan friends throughout my life). But I’ve never quite understood the notion of giving up something and then eating/drinking poor imitations of it, and I can’t fathom why anyone would need a poor latte imitation. I mean, many of us do grow up eating shepherd’s pie and spaghetti and meatballs and might want some vegan versions of those foods that remind us of Mom’s (or Dad’s) kitchen, but I don’t know many American children who grow up with mother’s (or father’s) special latte recipe.

A lactose intolerant customer makes a little bit more sense. Maybe Ms. Anorexic only recently discovered she’s lactose intolerant, has been a latte addict for years. (In fact, maybe that’s why she looks anorexic. Perhaps I’m being unfair in assuming she must be an anorexic, just because I can practically see the gap between her radius and ulna, under her skin, as she reaches for her cup. Perhaps she’s been drinking a latte every morning for the past fifteen years and has been unable to eat anything else the rest of the day.) She’s just been informed by her doctor that she needs to give up milk. Unlike me, she’s going for the poor imitation, because a poor imitation is better than nothing (kind of like those people who give up smoking and wander around with unlit cigarettes in their mouths).

All right, so, even though my taste buds are all screaming “bleh! Order me a nice cup of lemon ginger tea instead, and let’s have a scone to go with it,” if I think about it long enough, I can sort of understand why someone might order a soymilk latte. But my understanding and sympathy ends there. What’s with the decaf? This is an espresso drink, people. Espresso is meant to put hair on your chest, even if you’re a woman. That’s why Italians drink it in those Thumbelina cups, because they only want a Thumbelina amount of hair on their chests, not the Apeman’s. It is not a drink that should be stripped of its manliness (especially since it’s already beginning to doubt its manliness having been dressed in this womanly milky getup). Have a regular decaf coffee if you don’t want caffeine, and leave the poor espresso alone to flaunt his stuff.

Let’s face it: coffee is not a healthy drink. It has caffeine, a highly-addictive drug. Many of us then dump high-fat cream and sugar, another highly-addictive drug, into it. But let me ask you this: are sugar-free virgin daiquiris all the rage at every bar in town? Do people boycott snack machines that don't contain sugar-free, fat free, Snickers bar? Some things just aren’t meant to be healthy. Coffee is one of them. Please stop trying to make it so, or if you're going to insist on doing so, please get behind me in line.


Anonymous said...

Emily - I feel I must confess that I get my cappuccino with skimmed milk. Sorry.

ZoesMom said...

I am a skim milk in my coffee person too, but NEVER soy milk.

I do completely agree about the de-caf thing. As far as I am concerned if you're going to have de-caf anything you shouldn't even bother. Just have water. Or tea, if you like that sort of thing.

Watson Woodworth said...

I was confined to Soyland in my earliest years.
Not that my memory goes back that far.
I actually don't drink milk at all and take my coffee black.
Some of this could be due to my lack of lactose tolleration in those formative years.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it's like we share a brain! I do NOT understand eating or drinking imitation foods, and never really have. I also eat and drink the way food is meant to be served, so with a latte I take the whole milk. That said, though, I don't think coffee is unhealthy! It's full of lots of antioxidants, and have been linked to reductions in heart disease, diabetes and cancer, just to name a few. I have tried becoming a tea drinker and found no matter what, I prefer coffee and I would argue it's almost as healthy as drinking green tea. Almost, I said...

bloglily said...

I could not agree more -- I don't like fake versions of the real thing. I'm not much of a coffee drinker, though, so I don't really understand what should or shouldn't go in that cup -- but I don't really get the point of decaf tea. Seems like you should just have a tisane or green tea if the caffeine doesn't work for you at that moment.

I do love standing in line at coffee places (for my tea), though. It's fun and amazing to hear the wide variety of things people want in the morning -- I mean, they're not even AWAKE but they can alertly specify their needs and desires, sometimes with real ferocity!

Rebecca H. said...

Having just finished my cup of decaf coffee with skim milk, I can't say I entirely agree with you, but I do generally avoid fake foods and low-fat versions of things. I'd prefer half and half, but we just don't keep it around the house, and that's fine, and as for caffeine -- well, caffeine and I have had a long history together, and it just didn't work out, so I try to keep away from it. I love coffee so much I'm willing to make do with decaf (truth is, I can't tell the difference, so it doesn't really matter). But generally speaking, give me everything full-fat, please!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree!

I've always been of the school of thought that if you going to do something you do it properly, and accordingly I'd rather have 1 divine full-fat latte a week then half a dozen skim or soy ones. Whilst I eat a predominantly Vegan diet, if I'm craving a creamy, caramelly thick latte, then I'm going to smash it in the form it was meant to be, no half-baked imitations! :D

raych said...

My mind is whirling with all sorts of agreements and I'm not even sure where to start.

Firstly, things that are a treat should be treated as such, otherwise you might start thinking they're good for you. Like cookies made with whole wheat flour. STILL COOKIES! Use the white flour and know that they're junk and only eat two. If I buy low-fat treats, I eat twenty dozen of them.

Also, and this may just be because I'm a NINK[Y] (No Income, No Kids [Yet]) but for me, buying coffee at a shop is a treat. It's not something I deserve. I'm not hard-done-by if I don't get my java brewed by a professional. Which is why, when I go out for coffee, I order the steamiest, creamiest, chocolate-shavingest thing they have going.

Also, everyone should eat more scones. Vive la healthy weight gain!

Anonymous said...

PLEASE can I come to your house for coffee? I'm with you all the way, girl. My wife makes me buy nonfat milk which I like to call her "chalky water." If God had wanted milk to be nonfat, all cows would be bulimic. Or should I say bull-imic. Stop me now...I think I've had too much caffeine today.

Emily Barton said...

MFS, no need to confess. As we age, you will probably resemble a cow less than I do by sticking to skim milk.

ZM, yes, exactly. Why not drink (herbal) tea, which comes in so many delicious and interesting flavors, if you don't wan the caffeine?

Nigel, somehow I just knew you were even more of a purist than I.

Courtney, well I'll drink to the notion of coffee not being unhealthy (don't read that horrible propaganda The Caffeine Blues). And we must share a brain, because I, too, have tried to give up coffee and ultimately decided I couldn't do it.

Bloglily, oh yes, decaf black tea when you have all those yummy herbal tea options is silly. And, as long as those people aren't in front of me with long, complicated requests, I do am amused by what people insist on drinking in the morning.

Raych, exactly! Lowfat versions of things often make me think I can eat all I want (even when they taste like cardboard). And me too, buying coffee at a coffee shop is a treat, not something I do every day, and when I want a treat, I want a TREAT (especially when I'm paying about ten times what it's worth).

Danny, you may come drink rich, creamy coffee at my house any day, and we can walk it off afterward and take picture of all the fat, non-bullimic cows in Lancaster County.

Emily Barton said...

A. Owl, yes, do it up right on occasion and no half-baked imitations (that's what I meant to say!).

Emily Barton said...

Dorr, yes, I'm aware that some people just can't have caffeine, and it does affect some people much more than others. But, I've seen you eat sticky buns and ice cream and cherry pie, so I know where your heart naturally lies when it comes to the "real thing."