What’s in a name?

My caffettieraThis blog has recently turned one. I had decided to give in to a tacky celebration, just because this is something I traditionally don’t do in ‘real’ life, and a tiny side of myself is still the 13-years old girl wanting to throw the hottest party in the whole school, and I am here to voice my secret wishes and aspirations, in the end. Unfortunately I am late.

Anyway I am going to celebrate somehow, and my celebration is to allow for a lengthy and probably meaningless explanation of this blog’s name.

There is no hidden high cultural reference in this name. Literal meaning is

La = the

Caffettiera = coffee machine, see picture

Rosa = pink

Of course the name at a subconscious level was appealing because it sounds just like fake Italian food would – macaronicheese or linguini alfredo or spagheti bolognese, all typos included. Caffettiere are a serious metal colour, or at most a stylish black. They are not pink, girl like, and tacky. No Italian would buy a pink caffettiera: well, we actually would, but we won’t expect it to make good coffee.  But actually in my world girls do it better. A pink caffettiera is actually a pimped up, improved version of everyday caffettiera.

The model of caffettiera I have in my mind is not a standard coffee-making tool in Italy. Coffee machines at home are usually this model, called moka. The model I am talking about is actually quite popular in the Naples area where it  is called cuccuma. It produces a runnier coffee than moka and most Italians are not familiar with it. It has a complex preparation and operation that involves a spectacular upside down turn (in the picture, you can see the caffettiera as it appears before the turn).

I am very sentimental when it comes to caffettiere: the one in the picture was my one and only ‘wedding gift’. When I moved in with my man,  I gathered the dear friends I was living with at the time and gave them the news, eyes filled with tears. I was living in a very happy home with two of my best friends. These things don’t happen often in life. One of my mates gave me his caffettiera, which he brought from his original home and which we had used to share so many liters of black coffee, no sugar, no milk. We were the only coffee drinkers in the house, and quite heavy ones. We’d grind fresh, high quality coffee every morning, and make coffee, and then be late for work and rush out of the house together in a laugh.

This kind of caffettiera does take its time to produce coffee, and in Italy coffee is a fast drink (ever tried to order an espresso in the rush hour at a bar?). It also has a series of mystery features: releasing water when turned, is it a good or a bad thing? Should it be projected as far away as possible under the pressure effect, or should it be kept controlled? Should you leave it on the fire just right before boiling point, or should you allow it to get all angry and bubbling?

No answers, despite our deep research on the subject. Just one thing was sure: it needs love to work properly.

So caffettiera was a natural choice for a name.

But the deep secret I am going to share with you, my friends, is that I did not invent the name out of the blue. Oh no. La caffettiera rosa is a song.

It was a song we were all singing along during a funny holiday. One of the funniest holidays ever. A bunch of Italian and a bunch of other nationals travelling together. We brought a disk by Paolo Conte; we were playing it all the time because it is quite appealing to non Italians as well and it is funny to sing along. One  of the songs – a totally drunk one –  was La caffettiera rosa. Only that, when we came home and listened to the song more carefully, it was not. Italian misunderstood by Italians themselves! (This is not common at all, as Italian, unlike English, has very clear and distinct sounds and pronunciation rules are straightforward, leaving no ambiguity on spelling). The song actually is about la giarrettiera rosa, the pink garter, those who have seen it, never forget it.

Chi l’ha vista, non la scorda piu’.

And now for the celebratory recipe.

This is cold coffee the way I drink it in summer. I usually drink my coffee without sugar but you need a generous amount here to produce proper results. You also need a lot of ice to produce a thick foam. Legend says, the foam should be thick enough to hold a grain of coffee. Allowed additions are a hint of vanilla, and for the grown ups, sambuca, an anice-flavoured spirit that people often have with coffee. I personally loathe it.

Caffe’ freddo

Ingredients:

moka or espresso coffee, quite strong one (or cuccuma of course : ) ) , two to three cups

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 vanilla pod, possibly reused

about 20 ice cubes

Method:

Prepare coffee. Have a cocktail shaker ready with ice, sugar, vanilla. Pour the hot coffee on top, close and shake until the ice cubes don’t make any more noise. Serve filtering out the vanilla, with a coffee bean on the foam (also a chocolate coated one will do).

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2 Comments to “What’s in a name?”

  1. What a beautiful story, I like it very much. Wella

  2. Congratulations on the 1st year anniversary of your blog! I love your blog name and the story behind it so precious! We actually have one of these caffettieras. We don’t use it but every now and then I look at it and love it!

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