In Italy, Coffee, and its preparation and service, is like a complicated ballet with many dancers, acts, scenes, traditions, and pas de deux. You have to step lively and know your part or stumble, embarrass yourself, and offend someone if you get things wrong.
Stop ordering cappuccino anytime except the morning. It is a breakfast drink, it is not served after Noon, and it annoys the Italians when you order it at lunch or dinner. Espresso is never called that: it is just un caffé. The 1st coffee in the morning is called a moka and does not contain chocolate.
Visit the beautiful traditional coffee houses that serve coffee like a sacred liquid in hallowed temples to caffeine. These architectural gems are antique relics complete with exquisite paneled salons, marble counters and floors, and coffee drinks served in fine china cups that reflect the luxurious quality of the revered drink.
Career baristas create specialty coffees brewed to order that come in distinct cups based on the recipe. There is a language and litany of customs you need to learn before you order, but once you learn the code you’ll be on your way to enjoying the true Italian way of life and eating. I remember my 1st un caffe in Milano like yesterday!
Gelato is not ice cream
It is quaint, “gelato” means “ice cream” in Italian, but is the only thing it has in common with the American version. Just take a look at the green, blue, and magenta pop art colors of the ice creams that line freezer shelves in the grocery store and the differences are glaring.
American-style ice cream is richer, denser, and fatter (10% or more) thanks to more cream than milk in the recipe. It is also heavier because it is churned full of air at a high speed and the heavy fat content causes it to freeze as hard as rock. To maintain this thick texture and prevent hardening, the ice cream is often loaded with emulsifiers, stabilizers, and preservatives, which is obvious in the taste.
In contrast, gelato is the couture of frozen treats and has a silky, smooth viscosity that melts in the mouth because it has more milk than cream. This makes the gelato naturally more stable at higher temperatures and thus releases incredible flavors as it melts on the tongue.
As you can see, gelato is not just a fun treat, and to protect its status as an important food, there is even an official stamp of approval designed to guarantee the gelato is made with only the best ingredients. When buying gelato at a gelateria, look for placards that say “produzione propria” and “artigianale.” This lets you know the gelato was prepared by hand on the property using only natural ingredients and time-honored recipes, as seen in the featured picture.
Put them together and you have Affogato (meaning “drowned” in Italian): This is a coffee-based dessert, which is served in cafes and gelato shops all over Italy, is made with just 3 ingredients — espresso, gelato, and a shot of liqueur and when the hot espresso gets poured over the cold gelato. It is the perfect single-serve dessert!
Paste is not the same in Italy, stay tuned…
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively