My Morning Routine Posted by on Jul 10, 2010 in Culture

‘Pericolo di morte’ è il cartello che, secondo mio marito, bisognerebbe appendere nella nostra cucina la mattina prima che io abbia bevuto il mio sacrosanto caffè. (‘Danger of death’ it’s the sign that, according to my husband, should be hung in our kitchen before I’ve drunk my holy coffee.) Yes, like many Italians I’m very ritualistic about my morning coffee. However, now that I think about it I’m not sure that it will be easy to describe my routine, because for me, first thing in the morning, just getting to the kitchen is already a miracle. What’s more, without my contact lenses (another morning ritual) sono cieca come una talpa (I’m blind as a mole, as we say), and therefore I go into automatic pilot and just trust my Italian intuition and my nose.

Allora, here is what I ‘think’ I do in the morning: before I can begin the process of making my coffee I have to clean out my tiny faithful caffettiera moka per una tazzina (mocha coffee maker for one small cup), that I bought many years ago when I started travelling around the world. This sturdy little gadget has travelled with me to Egypt, Zambia, and England, and now is back here in Italy where it belongs. For those of you unfamiliar with the caffettiera moka, here is a brief description.

The mocha consists of three main components: 1) il serbatoio, a base section which holds the water, and is like a tiny pressure cooker with a safety valve on the side; 2) il filtro, a perforated metal filter which contains the ground coffee; 3) il contenitore per il caffè, a screw-on top section which collects the nectar (my coffee) once it has boiled. This top section has a handle, spout and a hinged lid like a teapot.

With the caffettiera nice and clean, I carefully fill up the serbatoio with just the right amount of water, not a drop more not a drop less. I then insert il filtro, filling it with caffè macinato per moka (coffee, ground for a mocha coffee maker) until it makes a slightly rounded heap. Next I screw on the top section, put la caffettiera on the gas stove with the flame turned to the very minimum, and eat my breakfast while I’m waiting for the music of the bubbling coffee to begin. As soon as I hear the familiar gurgling sound of the boiling coffee forcing its way up to the top section of the moka, I nudge my husband to turn off il fornello (the burner). After all he does sit closer to the cooker, and has longer arms than me. Ecco fatto! (that’s it, done!)

I love sipping my coffee senza zucchero e caldissimo (without sugar and very hot), or, as they say in Naples, ‘with the 3 C’s’: cacchio come cuoce! (hell how it burns!) The aroma and the taste of my strong coffee reconciles me with life in the morning. Without it I could murder someone, and as my husband Geoff is the only one around he’s very glad to see me emerge from my grunting misanthropic state to become, once again, almost human!

I don’t drink much coffee, usually just una tazzina (a small cup) in the morning, and sometimes another one after lunch. E tu, quanto ne bevi al giorno? (how much of it do you drink a day?)

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  1. Valerie:

    I think I loved the morning ritual of the Moka pot as much as the coffee in Italy. I left my beloved Bialetti with a friend for my return later this year. I added one step – a hand-pump milk frother which went on the 2nd smallest burner – containing milk & cardamom (sometimes cloves, nutmeg, other spices). It became the best part of my Italian mornings. In America, my DeLonghi Magnifica (si chiama ‘Maggie’) grinds the beans & delivers fresh ground espresso – and intoxicating aromas. That said, as much as I love Maggie’s mad frothing skills – there is something to be said for that ritual of the Moka pot, hand-frothing my cappuccino foam into oblivion while I made faces at my neighbor’s cat across the alley – the sounds, the smells, and the tastes. Here’s to morning coffee rituals. Salute…

  2. Vince Mooney:

    Salve Serena:

    When I lived in Italy all I needed was one expresso in the morning. The expresso ‘store’ was built into a wall in the village square where the busses stopped and was no more than six feet wide. Like the Italians, I drank the little cup in one quick gulp. I remember it was 50 lira and there was always a long line of people getting their expresso ‘fix’ before their bus arrived to take them to work. Now that was coffee!


  3. William Auge:

    Salve Serena, Io non beve troppo caffe per il giorno. Voglio una tazza grande di caffe nero, senza succhero o crema, anziare the giorno. Mia moglie e io vogliamo un caffe con sapore buono. Qualche volta quando ho bisogno di un po’ di energia Io beve un espresso nel pomeriggio.

    ciao, William

  4. andreas:

    Salve Serena!
    Io bevo molto caffè (5 tazzini al giorno), perché il suo sapore amagro mi calma i nervi. Lo bevo sempre senza zucchero, ma a volte con un pasticcino. Prima poteva bere 5 o sei tazze di caffè forte, ma ora non posso(una tazza era come 2,5tazzine). E mi piace ascoltare qualche canzone italiana quando lo bevo.

  5. Jeannet:

    Salve Serena,

    I drink only 1 cup of caffee in the morning and
    1 after dinner. In the course of living I always
    want an cappuccino, preferabily with an piccolo
    bicchierre da liquor, and no doubt that’s amaretto.
    Once a bottle of ‘disaronno’ has arrived a la mia casa p.e. being given as a present I know it to be absorbed very soon, delizoso!

  6. Eileen:

    I can’t say how much I love this blog! I only ‘parla un po’ (and can’t spell at all!)

    I bought a little 2-cup Moka when I was last in Rome, at one of the cute little “everything kitchen” stores you have. I love that Italy still has small electronics stores, kitchen stores, etc, and is so small business oriented.

    I used to have a huge American style coffeemaker that has sat totally unused in favor of the Moka. For this Texan, it’s also a daily requirement!

  7. Gabi:

    Cara Serena, abito a Londra e ci sono tanti posti dove si può bere una tazzina di caffe vero. Non sono italiana ma anche a me piace bere il caffe italiano. Capisco esatamante il tuo rituale della matina e mi sono tanto divertita quando ho letto il tuo articolo. Poveri nostri mariti con noi! :o)
    PS – Ogni giorno “controlo” se c’ è gia il nuovo blog sulla tua pagina. Il tuo blog è il mio grande piacere.:o))Grazie!

  8. Gabi: – Caffe Vergnano – questo è posto dove priperano un caffe vero italiano a Londra. Molto buono! Si sente anche la lingua italiana in caffe. Sollo io sono sempre timida e parlo inglese. :o(

  9. Joe Nance:

    I don’t drink a tazzina of coffee. I use a two cup moka that makes almost a full American sized cup of coffee. That definitely lifts the fog. The Italians would probably think that I’m crazy and mutter about the damage that I’m doing to my liver. What is this Italian fixation with the liver anyway?

    Love the blog. I’ll be doing a post on my blog before long about web resources for studying Italian and will post a link to this one.


    • serena:

      @Joe Nance Salve Joe, welcome to my blog and thanks for your comment. By the way, what liver fixation?

      A presto, Serena

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