Thursday, January 8, 2009

Goodfood in Italy Part 6: How to drink espresso

How to drink an espresso in an Italian coffee bar

A step-by step guide.
1. Saunter into a Cafe and walk over to the smartly dressed lady at the cash counter.
2. Make eye contact, trot out your 'Buongiorno' and say " Un espresso" in your best Italian accent, with an extended, almost musical emphasis on the 'sso', like in ss- ssso. This takes some practice, but you will get the rhythm of it soon enough if, like me, you drink enough espressos in day.

3. You will then be expected to put your payment - usually about 85 cents- on a small tray next to the cash machine, as the lady prints out your receipt.
4. If you are lucky , she might actually give you a smile and hold out two upturned palms for the payment. If you are feeling really Italian, hold her hand gently,
linger for a brief moment and place the coins in her palm.
You might like to add a 'Prego' almost in an undertone, sotto voce.

5. Don't overdo it though. Take your change and receipt, say your 'Grazie' and belly up to the bar.
6. If it is a popular cafe, the bar will be crowded and there will usually be a bit of gentle jostling , so you need to master the technique of angling for a good position and attracting the Barista's attention. If you have had enough practice getting a drink in a New York City bar or a London pub, you should do ok.

7. Order your espresso ( don't forget the emphasis on the 'ss- sso'). DO NOT SIT DOWN
8. The Barista will pull the drink from one of those glorious-looking coffee machines into a demitasse cup and push it towards you on a little saucer with a tiny spoon placed jauntily at an angle.
9. Lean sideways on the counter with an air of nonchalance as if you've been doing this all your life, your sunglasses dangling from your shirt pocket, and drink your espresso shot in one gulp. Use the spoon to scoop out the thick and delicious dregs at the bottom.

10. Then walk out into the sunshine, fuelled and caffeinated, ready to meet any challenge the world throws at you.

Goodfood in Italy series so far
Piazza Del Campo at night
The Colours of Siena
Chef Vincenzo's Ragu Bolognese
Positano, Amalfi coast and John Steinbeck
Making Limoncello in Positano

1 comment:

Sandeep Ray said...

Do you have any advice for this lady?