Monday, July 29, 2013

A Literary Feast: Recreating 10 Fictional Meals in Brooklyn

Posted By on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Page 4 of 12

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Good, Strong Coffee; A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Betty Smith

“There was a special Nolan idea about the coffee. It was their one great luxury. Mama made a big potful each morning and reheated it for dinner and supper and it got stronger as the day wore on. It was an awful lot of water and very little coffee but mama put a lump of chicory in it which made it taste strong and bitter. Each one was allowed three cups a day with milk. Other times you could help yourself to a cup of black coffee anytime you felt like it. Sometimes when you had nothing at all and it was raining and you were alone in the flat, it was wonderful to know that you could have something even though it was only a cup of black and bitter coffee.”

There is a lot of food from Betty Smith's classic novel that has stuck with me over the years. There's the pumpkin pie that Francie wants so badly that she lies about intending to give it to a needy family in order to get it all for herself. And there's the leftover bread fried in sizzling bacon fat that the Nolans ate on oh-so-many occasions. And the penny candies that Francie and Neely ate so much of that I frequently longed for the days when I could have been rich in candy. But nothing has stayed with me more than the coffee that Francie and her family drink cup after cup of throughout the course of a day. Even when they don't have much money for coffee, they brew whatever grinds they have left and mix in a little chicory. So, in honor of Francie, go over to her old stomping grounds in Williamsburg and have a piping hot cup of Oslo's Freya blend, which is smoky and dark and will burn its way past your tongue and into your memory. One other way to honor Francie, though, would be to drink some Grady's Cold Brew, which is flavored with chicory, a taste that Francie would have found familiar, even if she wouldn't have ever predicted that iced coffee existed, or that her humble neighborhood would have become what it is today.

Oslo Coffee; 133 Roebling Street, Williamsburg
Grady's Cold Brew;

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About The Author

Kristin Iversen

Kristin Iversen

Kristin Iversen is the Managing Editor at Brooklyn Magazine and the L Magazine. She has been described as "a hipster buzzword made flesh." This seems pretty accurate.

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