These are my parents. It is their wedding day. Mom wore a blue dress, dad a grey sport jacket. Nothing fancy.
You can see by the classic Neopolitan (flip and drip) espresso pot that their celebration is nearing its completion. It is how a lot of our family gatherings end, even today.
You may not think anything mysterious or unusual here. However, listen to the language and then decide.
"Do you want brown coffee," members of my family will ask at meal's end, "or demitasse?"
This is when first-time guests begin to scour the room, searching for a kindly face who might provide them with a freaking clue.
Literally, you are being asked to choose between a hot American coffee and an empty "half cup," or demitasse. It's a French word. Why my Italian-American family used it so determinedly I cannot say.
Practically, of course, my people would never be so rude as to offer a person, well, nothing. What they are really asking is whether you would like a regular coffee or an espresso that is served in a demitasse.
As time has passed the language has changed somewhat. Rarely is the French term employed, but neither is the proper espresso.
"Brown coffee or black?" became quite commonly used, or the even simpler "Brown or black?" Once it became evident that brown attracted more takers, a simple "Black?" whispered to those who exhibited such tendencies sufficed.
I align myself strongly with the whispered-to crowd. Even my house "brown," sourced from the same small coffee roaster in Brooklyn for many years, is, at my direction, 80 percent espresso beans.
Which, as you might imagine, can make the brown versus black coffee debate a murky topic around my house.
And don't even get me started again on the whole demitasse thing.