Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The world's most popular stimulant...(part uno)

Aside from pizza, pasta, gelato and wine..what else comes to mind 'food-wise' when you think of Italy? If you haven't already guessed (which I'm sure you have) it's something that wakes you up, gets you going and can have a real kick to it. And no, I'm not talking about red bull (which, for the record, I'm not a fan of). I'm talking about coffee of course.

Before I came to Italy I wasn't a major fan of coffee. Weak coffee that you can buy in buckets in the UK that is. Living in a country where coffee is like a religion, an addiction, a way of life...there's no escaping it. And so I began a path of, take naps and drink coffee.

It just looks so.damn.good.
Down here in the south, they don't have Starbucks. Lots of people that I've asked have never even heard of it! That's just amazing. A worldwide chain that hasn't even make so much of a whiff of coffee beans in these parts? They must be doing something here that's far better. In my town, you go to a bar to get a coffee. And 'bar' here doesn't necessarily mean a place with pool tables, a load of students and alcoholic drinks offers. Granted, you can get an aperitif, or another beverage with a bit more of a kick, but most of the time, a bar is where you get your coffee.

The Caffe', or Espresso
If you're imagining therefore, a load of coffee shop style establishments with big, comfy sofas you're going to be disappointed. Yes, tables and chairs do exist (see above photo), but most people take their coffee at the bar. They come in, order, drink, and go. That's it. It's not an occasion for socialising (although the Italians never do anything silently..apart from eating perhaps) and it serves a purpose- to get a little hit of something good, without indulging in any illegal practice. One of my students called coffee his 'fuel', and I think this is an appropriate term for many.

Here are a few interesting facts for all you coffee lovers out there:

Coffee is the world's most popular stimulant

The coffee bean is actually a seed inside a bright red berry

Ethiopian shepherds first noticed the effects of caffeine when they saw how their goats reacted after eating these coffee berries (they became somewhat 'frisky' and seemed to 'dance' around)

A man called Luigi Bezzera (can you guess his nationality? :D ) invented and patented the first pressurised cylindrical coffee machine...

...and he invented it to increase his employees' productivity time- by ensuring they had shorter coffee breaks by having a quicker coffee fix.

 For more interesting coffee facts, have a look here. Part 2 of my coffee themed blog post is coming soon!

Tomorrow morning I'm off to the UK, so until my next post, feel free to have a nose around- I would especially recommend checking out the food section.
Ci vediamo presto!!

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