Stracciatella Affogatto al Caffe': The Anti-Cappuccino
Well, I’ve done it! I’ve cracked the code. I should get an award or something from the general Italian population. I figured out a way to get tourists (specifically Americans) to stop drinking cappuccinos in the afternoon. Now, I’m not a total snob…I lived in Seattle, the coffee drinking capital of the world (probably), and I have spend many an afternoon walking around with a double-tall latte in hand…but that was America. I don’t live there anymore. I live in Italy. Its a different country, a different culture. And here in Italy, the culture dictates that one does not drink cappuccino after breakfast.
The responses are always the same. Its either: “but I like my cappuccinos after lunch (or worse yet, dinner)…” or “Italian espresso is just too strong!”. Its the second response that really gets me… Lets just compare some quick facts. A standard double shot of “insert brand here” espresso contains 150 mg of caffeine and a tall drip coffee contains 260 mg of caffeine! Compare that to a standard european shot of espresso which contains between 40 and 70 mg max of caffeine (depending on how short or long one takes their coffee). Now, I’ve realized that when I tried to explain this to people, no one really cares – they still want their cappuccino… I’ve tried to get people to just suck it up and drink an espresso, I’ve tried to meet them half-way – “you can get a caffe’ macchiato – its like a baby cappuccino,” but nothing works…
So last week I was sitting outside of L’Alchimista in Montefalco on a hot early summer day, winding down after lunch, and, of course, I started to see the cappuccinos float by… (it literally makes me shrink down into my seat in embarrassment for my country)… then I start to hear the rumblings from my little group of Americani – they want cappuccinos too! NOOOO!!!
Then it came to me! What has basically the same ingredients as a cappuccino, but better; is absolutely 100% culturally acceptable; and actually makes sense (do you really want to drink a hot cappuccino after a big lunch on a hot day??!?). Now you may be thinking Shakerato, but that doesn’t really fit the bill… its stracciatella affogatto al caffe’!: a small scoop of gelato (stracciatella is basically milk flavor gelato with bits of chocolate) with a shot of espresso poured over it. So simple, so perfect, and who wouldn’t agree that ice cream is better than cappuccino? At the end its a win-win for everyone: I wasn’t embarassed, they didn’t get glared at by the locals, and the trip went on happily-ever-after with the perfect ice cream/coffee substitute!
Originally posted June 2011