Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Neapolitans and coffee

A reader, a British woman living in Naples, has written in response to my recent post on coffee, causing me to realize what an unforgivably Northern-centric orientation I gave this important subject. She states that in her area they will not down the beverage in one gulp- at least three. Unkind persons in the North might say that this is because Southerners take three times as long to do anything.

To make amends I present a famous scene from my beloved Eduardo De Filippo, the Neapolitan playwright and actor. Toward the beginning of his play Questi fantasmi (These Ghosts), he is having his coffee on the balcony after a nap (what would the people up North say?) and chatting with a neighbor. The incredible emphasis on coffee preparation will show the real reason Italians consider the coffee from Naples special. The secret is apparently the Neapolitan, and not the water, as is often stated. At one time the water from Serino was thought to account for the wonderful brew, but that water no longer reaches Neapolitan households, and it's probably polluted now anyway. Eduardo says that he does not allow his young wife to make the coffee, he has to make it with his own hands. He even roasts it himself, until it becomes the color of a "monk's cape."

A real paean to coffee. Almost makes me want to renounce my renunciation of it. Almost. But I am now going to make myself some ... green tea.

For more on Naples and coffee, see this site (in Italian) dedicated to the subject.