a la mode
It’s colors are layers. First from the bottom up, caramel conceals itself into a layer of nutella that climbs upward into a whirl of micro foam, appearing like the result of egg yolk, meticulous whipped into a weightless texture, courted by three rectangular cubes of sugar on a circular silver tray.
At first, it’s hot. I drop one of the three cubes of sugar into my nous nous – half espresso, half milk – so that I can experience it like the local Moroccans do. Then, I turn my spoon like a merry-go-round, slowly then with increasing speed.
I sit on the front row of the cafè terrace where circular tables and plastic chairs hold me between sun and shade, as the talk of the day fills the ground floor, this is a cultural ritual that locals – mainly men -partake in publicly. The cafè as a conversation ground is nothing new, but experiencing it on a continent responsible for birthing coffee in a country that drinks coffee, feels special, historic.
When I place this order, I say ‘nous nous’, pronounced like ‘us’ with an ‘n’ preceding it: ‘nus nus’, as if I’ve always said it. I am hoping it rolls off my tongue just like the milk should soon do, but in reverse.
My nous nous arrives with one quarter of the glass left empty. This proportion isn’t a signal that I, or one hasn’t received a full coffee, but details the half-half combination of the drink which also hospitable allows for your fingers to hold the upper glass, while the lower part, hot, eventually cools.
I reach in for the glass and attempt my first sip, as I do,I realize that this coffee is like an apple pie and the cube of sugar has made it an a la mode. I like, love apple pie!
After a couple quick and successive sips, the coffee and milk, decreasingly cooling in this little glass, rolls back upon each short and determined sip: it is smooth, it is pleasing.
With nothing left to be desired other than to sit here; listen to the eventual square call to prayer; watch Senegalese men sell knock off iPhones and timepieces on children peddle travel packs of tissue for dirham; watch mopeds and bicycles share roads with trotting donkeys, walking pedestrians and performersI take it all in, in languages spoken that are only understandable when common greetings are exchanged. So, I am still, while everything else moves around me: a true Moroccan coffee break. Chokram!