How to drink coffee like a local
Happiness is not just the smell of early morning coffee….from the village bar on a misty, rain-spattered morning in a cute corner of Abruzzo…..no happiness is….
…. sneaking in an extra sugar without anyone noticing. Oh the joy!
Three sugars. And who care’s who’s looking. I don’t know about all you coffee drinkers out there, in Italy at the moment like me, or in the rest of the world, but I like mine sweet. Very sweet. Like, really, really, three sugar sweet. All squeezed into a tiny little espresso cup. Yum. None of your coffee connoisseur “dark chocolatey taste that becomes citrusy and slightly spiced, with a hint of toasted almonds and notes of dates and dried figs” as I translated the other day for Venice’s 1930’s coffee house Torrefazione Marchi. Just sugar. Lots of it. In my coffee.
I normally only take two… it doesn’t look good to be shaking too many little sugar bags around in the air (it’s only taken me 20 years to learn how to do that).. it used to fascinate me how people would stand and shake the little sugar bags around in the air.
I later worked out that it’s all part of the whole popping into the bar for a coffee ritual. You walk in and order your coffee (shouting from afar, you’re in Italy, of course you don’t have to wait till you get to the counter or bother if the barista is actually listening/looking/busy/in the room at the time), and in the time it takes him or her to coax it out of the espresso machine along with the many other cappucinos and coffees lined up on the grill, instead of standing at the counter and staring into space, you just shake your sugar bags and smile, and before long, someone will undoubtedly strike up a conversation with you. By the time the coffee arrives, not only have you killed five potentially boring minutes, the sugar’s also been thrown to the bottom so you can rip the bags open and
pour it shovel it into your coffee!
How to borrow English words in Italian
So, it’s a blow caution to the wind day. It’s a get your trainers out and go footing day. Like many other expats like me, I discovered a long time ago in my early days in Italy, footing is what Italians do in their tracksuits and trainers of a morning. The rest of the world jogs, the more ambitious might even run, but in Italy, you just put one foot in front of the other at a slightly faster pace than a donner (some people say its daunder, but in Glasgow we always went for a donner) and call it “footing” in order to sound trendily Anglophile.
Filling time is something that concerns me a lot… and as my sugar rush propelled me out the door into the drizzle for a 30-minute jog round the local countryside after a three-week break, I was aware that it could be a long half hour. Which is where stories come in handy. Not the best segue, I know, but let me explain. As my feet paddled heavily one in front of the other, my breath came in increasingly frequent rasps, and tractor-driving men’s heads turned at my funky fluo jacket or the fact that I was footing in the rain (get wet in Italy, never!), my mind drifted off to the stories we’d been reading last night.
If you want to know what stories… then sign up for updates… back soon with the low-down on The Two Hunchbacks.