Monday, December 6, 2010

It's "Caffè". Not "Coffee". Stupid American.

Editor's Note: Ha! I called myself the editor...I'm awesome. Anyway, we have our very first guest post today, courtesy of the little woman. I promised this was coming a couple of weeks ago, but she didn't get around to writing it for the crappy excuse of having an actual life to lead. Oh well. Enjoy some estrogen-laced ranting!

So, as all two of you know, the Grump and I were lucky enough to travel to Florence (Italy not New Jersey) for our honeymoon. It was an amazing trip and I'm sure you guys have kept up with the hub's posts concerning our awesome time there. While most of the things that the Grump saw as major enjoyment roadblocks (like not knowing the language...oh, wah) I simply ignored as I most likely had a glass of chianti in hand at the time. However, as a coffee drinker, my honeymoon buzz was nearly disrupted by the lack of a decent cup of joe anywhere in the country.

I started drinking coffee in college, mostly just to get going for my 10:00 a.m. classes. God, I miss college. Anyway, I was introduced to coffee through the roach trucks on campus.


This is coffee that had been brewing for about three days before the cup was shoved into your hand by Vlad, who may or may not be a convicted felon in the old country. Zombie-like, you totter the first few feet towards your class while taking your first tongue scalding sip. What happens internally is only what I can describe as a Van Damme kick to your frontal cortex, tongue and vital organs. Externally, for me anyway, it looks and sounds something like this:

Needlessly to say, I reached the point where this kung fu showdown with my early morning brain function is something that I now require to start off my day. So, imagine my surprise when I asked for a coffee in Italy and the waiter plunked this down in front of me:

"I feel like I'm gonna break this damned thing."

I know what you guys are thinking. "Mrs.Grump, (because you guys are polite) that appears to be an espresso. Coffee-zilla. Even for an addict like yourself, it should be more than sufficient to satisfy your coffee jones." Well, Grumpites, it's not. I like to enjoy my caffeine buzz. Savor it, if you will. And I just can't do that when there's only a quarter of an inch of metallic tasting liquid with an entire pack of sugar thrown in.

Puzzled, I consulted my trusty Frommer's. Skipping past the potential set up they give you for being roofied by someone named Gio the second you step into a bar, "caffè" is listed as the Italian word for coffee....and espresso. Seriously? So a couple of days and almost one full espresso cup later, I overhear a table of French tourists ordering a "caffè americano". I know, right? The last group you would think would order anything "americano". So I give that a whirl and I'm given a cup of something that was quite obviously espresso watered down with the spit of the cafe waiters. Ugh. Good thing it's socially acceptable to order wine at eleven in the morning on a Tuesday here, otherwise there would be dead bodies littering the piazza.

So to bring this rambling post to a conclusion, my coffee confusion was cleared up about a month later when I stumbled upon this post by The Oatmeal, who I absolutely love and am also a little afraid of. While I don't agree with his assessment of the whole Italian/American coffee situation (Espresso with or without water blows goats either way in the categories of taste and strength), I'd recommend reading it before you venture off into the land of Italy. Or just have a backup cup of diner coffee waiting for you like I did when you land.

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