Pass the cream and sugar, hold the espresso

19 Jan

teacup_gansonWhen it comes to modern culture, I like to think I’m right up to date.

I know, for example, all about the popular TV show, “Downton Abbey,” and have joined my wife in watching it. Note also that I wrote “Downton Abbey,” not “Downtown Abbey” as I heard an uninformed deejay refer to it.

I also know Sarah Palin’s book is “Going Rogue: An American Life,” not “Going Rouge” as another radio announcer called it.

So I keep up on modern culture, right?

Wrong. Anyone who knows me knows that isn’t entirely true.

I proved it again recently during a visit with family members in Minneapolis.
I found myself in a busy little cafe on a Sunday morning, trying to decide what to order for breakfast.

This was one of those places where you order and pay at the counter, find a table and wait for the staff to bring your food and drink to you.

It’s probably an efficient way to do business, but those sorts of places make me nervous. If you’re at what I call a “normal” restaurant, you can study the menu at your leisure and make a decision. If you need more time, when the waiter or waitress appears to take your order you just ask for a few more minutes.

But at this place in Minneapolis and others like it, you’re in line ahead of a lot of hungry, in-a-hurry strangers who’ve eaten there before and probably know exactly what they want to order.

I feel like 10 sets of impatient eyeballs are on me as I ponder my choices in places like this.

Choosing my breakfast food turned out to actually be quite easy. I chose The Standard. That’s two eggs, a choice of meat and some toast.

Then I looked at the listing of the coffee offerings.

Oh my God! I didn’t even know what most of them were.

So much for my thorough knowledge of modern culture.

In my defense, I did know enough not to order cappuccino. The cappuccino you get at a cafe like the one I visited in Minneapolis doesn’t taste anything like the sweet, warm mixture that comes out of the cappuccino machine at a convenience store. I learned that lesson the hard way a while back.

So on this morning in Minnesota, my son Clint ordered espresso. So to speed things along and not look uninformed, I crossed my fingers and did the same.

When my espresso arrived at the table, I was shocked. The concoction was thick and dark and in a tiny cup and saucer. The cup and saucer resembled dishes from a child’s tea set.

The waitress read the surprised look on my face. “Is this not what you expected?” she asked. I lied. “It’s fine,” I said.

Then I took a sip. Another shock. Yuck!

I’ve never tasted liquid mud, but it can’t be any worse than espresso. Liquid mud might even taste better.

According to Wikipedia, a pressurized brewing process for espresso makes the flavors and chemicals in a typical cup very concentrated.

“Espresso is the base for other drinks, such as a latte, cappuccino, macchiato, mocha, or Americano,” the website says.

I must have grimaced after that first taste because the young lady who had delivered the espresso was soon at my side again, unsuccessfully trying to conceal a smile.

“Cream and sugar might help,” she said, pointing to those items on a nearby counter.

They did help. Immensely. In fact, next time I think I’ll order just the cream and sugar. They can keep the mud in a mini-cup.

Copyright 2013 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. Submitted as a column to north Scott Press, Eldridge, Iowa.

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Posted by on January 19, 2013 in Uncategorized


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