Wednesday, November 4, 2009
My minor obsession with coffee has a lot to do with having spent the last 10 years living in Italy. Being but a thinly-veiled socialist society they long ago realized that certain staples; gas, bread, chianti, and espresso prices need to be artificially controlled to maintain social order. So, in almost all the bars in Tuscany an espresso will cost .90 cents (euro) as long as you drink it standing up at the bar. (Much more if you sit down at a table where a different "tourist" price list kicks in.)
So while I was living there, I'd drop the kids off at school and head to the bar on the corner, Bar Petrarca, just outside Porta Romana in Florence and have my morning cappuccino and a brioche. Then again, picking them up at 4pm stop in at the Bar Il Poggio for an espresso. I could have made coffee at home, but the ritual of standing at the bar, chatting with the barista and quickly reading the newspaper coupled with a 15 minute break from the house chores and farmwork was important.
So, Imagine my horror to find on my yearly return to the US that a cappuccino costs $3.00-$3.50 here and an espresso--often badly made and served in a paper cup the size of a medium popcorn at the theater often $2. So, while I loved taking coffee socially in Italy, I retreated to the kitchen and the stovetop moka or french press to make coffee that I could afford and brood about the vagaries of fate.
Fortunately, Santa Cruz has some really good coffee bars and while they are still expensive at least the quality is good. And on one foggy morning as I stopped in to the local coffee place and stared at my little espresso cup with the little spoon and sugar cube wondering about my life and life's choices out of the crema and steam rose this little genie who asked me about the ebbs and tides of my life and then (this being California and a surf capital) about the current surf conditions. Then after a bit of hemming and hawing, chatting about the weather and local politics he finally got to the point and asked what I wanted out of life and said he would grant me a wish. When I asked how come all the other genies I'd ever heard about usually offered at least three wishes he shrugged his shoulders, twisted the hairs of his yellow eyebrows and said, "Hey, I'm the espresso genie" "With me there's just one strong, dense, chocolatey, concentrated wish". Then, with a sly grin he said, "If you wanted three wishes you should have gone with the double-shot, extra-tall soy, non-fat pumpkin latte."
And then, after a pause, "So", he went on, "what's it going to be?....."
"The espresso genie grants just ONE wish..."
3.5"x"9.5" Japanese polychrome wood block print
9 blocks, 13 colors, printed on Kizuki Hanga 135g/m2 Japanese Hosho paper.
open edition/40 printed to date.