What’s so great about cappuccino? I wondered about this recently over a cup.
Here I am, in the least french places of Paris – Starbucks – about to have cappuccino.
The barrista is a thin French rooster, grumpy because he’s either sleepy (it’s 8.00AM on a Saturday) or angry because they made an attempt to cook him the night before. He gives me my cappuccino and bats over to his next customer.
How the cappuccino is made?
To my naked eye (it’s Sunday 8.00AM for cryin out loud – my eye has no make-up…not sure about the other one), cappuccino is made this way: the barrister fluffs the milk with some kind of fancy shpritzing machine and then pours the frothy looking hot liquid over a long doze of black, sharp bitter espresso, blobs it all in a big, friendly (not so much to the trees though) paper cup, hands the concoction to me and checks off with no responsibility for my future any longer. Not even if I burn myself to the hot liquid. It’s Europe after all – you’re supposed to think here!
The rest of the cosmetic (of the cappuccino, not of my naked eye), on the other hand, I can do myself by the self-service counter (my favourite spot! Full of all sorts of free stuff, spices mainly, no money though). I powder and make-up my cappuccino with choco powder, sugar, cinnamon, cimmanon, if available, etc. I love that self-service counter with free stuff on it, may I interrupt myself just to say how much I love it!
I love the self-service counter with the free stuff on it. Who doesn’t. The line of people waiting is longer at the self-service counter with the free stuff than at the pay-for-everything-you-see counter of the cafe itself. There are a few people waiting for soup and sausages too, but I think they mixed the Starbucks self-service counter with another institution. This one never gives free stuff, either. The €4.50 cappuccino says it so. If ever Mr. Schultz, Starbucks’ boss, added free muffins to his self-service counter, and I’d bet the price of the cappuccino will shoot up to at least €150 a cup, I’d be in Starbucks all the time! By the self-service counter with the free muffins. Not sure I’ll drink cappuccino though.
I’m so glad there is the self-service counter so I can take my bland cappuccino and its shaving foam-looking froth mounting above the cup and snow its virgin peaks with choco powder. If you don’t choke your cappuccino on choco powder and sugar, why drink cappuccino otherwise? Aaaaah, I hear 60 million Italians gasp and expect Achille Gaggia roll up in his coffin. The Austrians might object to my remark, too, if they really had anything to do with the invention of the cappuccino drink. But, please, no intentions to upset anybody from the Österreich population. Especially because my next stop in a few weeks is Vienna. I really want to drink my cappuccino there in peace. And, I DO expect to find sausages by the free counter, Mr. Schultz! It’s Vienna after all, ok, maybe not Bavaria, but still, think about it. Perhaps free apfelstrudel? Mr. Schutlz, come on! Apfelstrudel? Schnitzel? Rapunzel? Bitte?
Where was I? At the counter with free stuff and at the point of why drink cappuccino. Yes.
So, I go and sit at one of the tables and begin to drink my over-powdered à emporter, thinking what is so great about cappuccino. Very existential question. In a city that thrived on existentialism. And snails. And garlic!
Then it dawned on me, the thing about cappuccino is, it’s not more than a latte with some fancy frothing on top; it’s a long date night with a promise to a long foreplay; it’s Seal and Heidi and me believing they’ll never separate; it’s swimming in a transparent turquoise lagoon at midnight. The last one doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
Cappuccino, my revolutionary revelation was, is all about the choco powder and the froth – the top middle layer of the whole thing.
And that’s exactly where the World Order went wrong – everything on top looks fantastic while underneath (or, as my son says “under the neath”) is bitter. But the World Order is mainly wrong because there is NO WAY how you could ever get to drink the froth and choco powder without drinking all the bitter parts first. Unless of course you’re George Clooney and live on Lake Como, then the world is one big spoon full of choco powdered froth while a quick shot of Nespresso every now and again, as a reality check and a huge advertising cheque, never hurts. For some physically odd reasons the froth and choco powder combination always remains in the middle of the cup and there is no way out of slurping it towards your lips and drinking that one first. Using a spoon? For soup, yes.
No matter what you do – you twirl the cup around, shake it and lean it and jiggle it and angle it like it’s some tetris game console – in an effort to chase the froth with the choco powder, you never manage to drink it.
Every time I try to sip with the sole aim to catch the froth with the choco powder, all I get is the bitter liquid of coffee and already cold milk. It’s a battlefield. I shake the cup nervously, but at the same time play up at the judgemental looks shooting from nearby tables. One attempt after another and I swallow more bitterness and disappointment. I remain hopeful. The froth and the choco powder have ganged up against me and built up camp in the middle of my cup refusing to get into the centrifuge that is my hungry for sweetness mouth. I shake again and work at it as best as I can. I’m sweating. I could stick my face in the cup like when a person finishes off a jar of jam or Nutella, I’ve never done that one, but I’d risk getting brown coffee circles around my T-area and cheeks, and pretty much all over my face. l’m tired of it and give up.
Yep, drinking cappuccino is hard work.
Cappuccino is such a Capitalist!
A lot of hard work, with promises for play and fun after that.
At the end of the work day, you’re too tired to play. So, you go to bed early, to wake up early, to go to work early and work all day the next day. Thank God there’s cappuccino to-go on the way to work, though.