Fratelli Foods and How To Drink Coffee Like An Italian
On most sunny Saturdays in South Africa I am up early in the mornings to work on projects, spend time with the family or do some shopping. However, on this particular Saturday I slept in. I’m not talking a little ‘lie in’ here. I’m referring to a leisurely and languishing slothful slumber! Anyway, when I finally woke up, I was in the mood for a continental experience. I am a huge fan of immersing myself in different cultures, in particular their food. I believe that the people and the food are the essence of a place! Having not woken up with enough time to hop on a plane to Italy, I persuaded my family to join me to a meander down the valley to go and try out a new local Italian deli, Fratelli Foods. For a brief hour or two it felt as if I had in fact landed in Italy.
The word fratelli means brothers and sisters in Italian. Im pretty sure that most Italian ‘fratelli’ would have been completely disgusted with my choice of a cappuccino after midday. According to James Hoffman in his book, The World Atlas Of Coffee, “There is a tradition in Italy of having just one cappuccino in the morning, then drinking only espresso for the rest of the day. I believe this is a fascinating culture reflecting diet. Like most of southern Europeans, many Italians are lactose intolerant. However, a lactose-intolerent person can consume a small amount of milk without a problem, hence the daily cappuccino. A second or third cappuccino, however, even a small italian one, could result in some gastric distress, so Italian culture prevents the excessive consumption of milk by making it a small cultural taboo to keep drinking cappuccino though out the day.”
So not only did I break one cardinal Italian rule, I broke two. I drank TWO cappuccinos AFTER midday. I sincerely hope the Italian coffee police aren’t reading this article. If you are, “Mi dispiace!” Perhaps I should order a Caffè corretto as penance?
Ive also been told that one does not order ‘An Espresso’ in Italy… An expresso is the given standard. Instead, one orders a “Caffè “. Under NO circumstances does one ever order an iced peppermint toffee frappuccino with extra cream and sprinkles… not unless you want to be deported to the uncool tourist box! Well, at least I didn’t err in this regard!
While at Fratelli I enjoyed a deli platter selection of prosciutto, salami, cheeses and marinated zucchini. If the Italians would let me, I would easily convert to Italianism. (I am fully aware that this is not possible, one has to be born into a culture, but just let me dream people!) I have always LOVED the culture, people and I could certainly live on ciabatta dunked in olive oil and balsamic vinegar for days.(Not to mention the tiramisu, rich red wines and cheeses!!!! Happily, I dream of owning a Tuscan villa perched on the hills of a vineyard. Ahhhh le dolce vita eh?!
Back to visiting Fratelli…. As third generation Italian owned purveyors, Fratelli Foods pride themselves on housing a portfolio of superior Italian products. Products include Bastianich wines, Baladin craft beer, La Dolcé Vita Caffé, Quaranta Nougat, Baratti e Milano fine dolce and biscuits, Pantaleo olive oil, Ambra pasta and Mia Zia canned produce. Be sure to visit them when next you are in Port Elizabeth at Alabaster Road, Baakens Valley.
It was a lovely afternoon spent with family.. the company (including chatting to the people at tables around us), the food and the coffee was delicious. I would have enjoyed more Ciabatta on my deli board though.
Ill be writing a post about preparing coffee in the traditional Italian Moka pot soon. The Moka is the Mr Italy of coffee, so best you buy some Italian roasted beans in the mean time.
For now, addio amico mio