We are standing in the kitchen.
“So this coffee,” I say. “What makes it Turkish?”
Maryna shakes her pretty little head. “Watch,” she says. “Don’t ask questions.”
I raise my hands, one of which is holding a wine glass, and back away silently, sitting on a stool at the breakfast bar.
“I am not going to tell you how to make,” she says, “you watch and you see.”
I give her two silent thumbs up.
Maryna moves about the kitchen. Coffee. Salt. Pepper. Honey. Garlic.
I open my mouth, think twice, and shut it.
“First,” she says, “grind coffee. You have grinder?”
“I thought we weren’t talking,” I say.
She frowns at me briefly.
“Yes,” I say. “I have a grinder.”
She bustles, grinding this, squeezing that. She lays the blade of a large knife against a medium-sized clove of garlic, hits it briskly with her hand.
I am always impressed when people do this.
She turns on the burner, and a flame rises. She spoons the ground coffee into a very small copper vessel. It has a long wooden handle. She sets it on the stove. The smell of coffee rises. She adds salt, does several twists of pepper. She adds the garlic, squeezes in two streams of honey.
It makes a hissing sound.
“You see how ees small? Because make one, maybe two cups. We don’t stir. When we make, cup ees for you, just you.”
She pulls a bottle of water from the fridge.
“Water must be cold,” she says.
I leave my stool, walk over to peer into the small pot. “What do you call this pot?”
She frowns. “Pot? Maybe I call eet ‘pot’. I don’t know.”
Maryna stares into the waters in the small pot. “Now we stare,” she says. “We stare at the water. No bathroom, no cigarette. Just stare.”
“A watched pot never boils,” I say.
She looks at me briefly. “You say that? Ees very good.”
I consider telling her that it’s an old saying, then decide against it.
I have so little.
The water rises, and she removes it from the stove.
‘That ees one time,” she says. “We do two more times, like thees. Water say ‘shhhhhhh’, and we peek it up. Two times.”
We stand and watch as the water says ‘shhhhhhh’ two more times.
When the water rises for the third time, she removes it quickly from the stove, pours it into a cup the size of an aggressive thimble, then sets it on a saucer.
“Drink,” she says. “Ees cup only for you. When you are done, we teep cup on saucer. Your fortune.”
Fortune? “I didn’t know you could read fortunes.”
“Me?” She smiles. “No, but someone else? Maybe.”
I blow across the top of a tiny little cup. “I love you, Maryna.”
And the coffee? Absolutely delicious. And of course she sent me home with the pot, six cups and saucers, and a garlic bulb.
Maryna’s Recipe for Turkish/Ukrainian Coffee
Makes two cups
Two heaping teaspoons of ground medium roast coffee
Half teaspoon salt
Half teaspoon ground pepper
One small clove of garlic, smashed
Heat on stove over medium flame.
Add two long squirts of honey. It will hiss.
Add cold water with enough room at the top so as not to boil over. Do not stir.
Stare at it. Don’t go anywhere. Don’t go to the bathroom. Don’t have a cigarette. Don’t let it boil.
Let it go up. Shhhhhhh. Remove from heat.
Let it go up again. Shhhhhhh. Remove from heat.
Let it go up one more time. Shhhhhhh. Remove from heat.
Pour in cups. Drink hot.