Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Word of the week: il bar

This, like so many words in modern Italian, is an import from English. But il bar is quite different from our bar, which in Italy is called "American bar." The idea of a place where one goes solely or primarily to drink is unknown to them. There is no such thing as a liquor license in Italy, so that these bar serve everything from espresso to fruit juice to alcohol and cappuccino. Children and families will of course go there also.

And they serve food, naturally. One of your best bets for economical dining in Italy is to eat at these bar. Italians rush to them in the morning for cappuccino, coffee and pastries, and later for panini (which generally are not pressed) and my beloved tramezzini (inset), which are similar to tea sandwiches but much more interesting. Even hot dishes can be had at many bar, and are often eaten standing up by the locals during their lunch "hour" (rarely just an hour). These are also bargains.

A barista is the person behind the counter who prepares your beverages.