In the 1930s, physicists started discovering a whole zoo full of exotic atomic particles. There were muons and kaons and who-knows-whatelse-ons. When told of these, the famous physicist Enrico Fermi said: ‘If I wanted to remember all that I would have become a botanist.’ Ironically, later he invented the process used in atomic bombs.
I feel the same way about coffee. It may be fascinating and delicious and even romantic, but sheesh – all those names!
There’s the elegant and simple Frappe, but with a silent ‘e’. Widely consumed in Europe and Latin America, it’s a cold espresso made with two teaspoons of sugar and milk with crushed ice cubes. For a nice variation, add a quarter cup each of brandy and crème de cacao. Since it’s served with a straw, I just wish those drinking it were silent, too.
The counterpart to the innocent Frappe is the wicked Cappuccino Borgia, named for the famed poisoner. You’ll just die for one of these quarter-cup peeled orange, one and a half cup chocolate ice cream dreams. Add also six tablespoons of orange juice and a quarter-cup milk to an espresso, blend and start speaking 15th century Italian.
Re-enter the 21st century and jet to the Caribbean for a Calypso Cooler. A cup of chilled, extra strength coffee gets subjected to a couple of ripe bananas and two cups of coffee ice cream. Add four tablespoons of rum and lose your luggage.
While we’re adding alcohol to our coffee, let’s not forget the mysterious Latin: Caffee Zabaglone. A quarter cup of dry Marsala with a quarter cup of sugar starts the feast. Add a pinch of salt and four egg yolks, then wisk and cook until thick. Add a cup of Italian roast at room temperature and you’ve got a drink, breakfast and a hangover cure all in one.
But the ancestors of Rome have nothing on those of France in modern New Orleans. Add double strength American roast to a half-cup each of heavy cream, eggnog and bourbon and you have a Mardi Gras, with a silent ‘s’. Too bad the crowd isn’t silent – it’s 4 a.m. and I’m trying to sleep.
Ordinary Turkish coffee is famous for its dark, strong flavor cut with cardamom. But they’re not the only ones to have discovered a good use for this ancient spice. Scandinavians make a Cardamom Kaffee.
Start with an eighth-cup of cognac and add two teaspoons of curacao, a teaspoon of sugar and a cardamom pod (cracked and seeded). Heat in the microwave for about ten seconds then light with a match. Pour on a half-cup of extra strength coffee and be prepared to douse a four-alarm fire.
Despite all the names, I have to give credit to the many creative inventors of all those different mixtures. They may not have invented huge bombs, but their products sure do give you a jolt!