Wednesday, June 15, 2011

the Percolator nearly ruined my life

When it comes to my romantic relationship, I am unequivocally the dumb one- so much that I live in perpetual fear of the day that Giulio realizes I tricked him into dating me. Last December, and once again this month, my lacking faculties were nearly abruptly and tragically exposed.

Enter: The Percolator.

I am a coffee drinker but not a coffee snob, and like any good Starbucks patron, I happily drink what's handed to me. I've also handled an espresso machine, a french press, and at a time when I used to get dressed in the mornings (due to my employed status) I would even take the liberty of preparing the Mr. Coffee pot at work, thereby caffeinating my entire building. I never had any complaints.

When I visited Giulio and met his parents in Italy for the first time, I was unexpectedly introduced to a significant, though never before mentioned member of the family: The Coffee Percolator. I had no warning and therefore no preparation to reconcile my ignorance on the issue- imagine going in for a job interview and having no clue what your prospective employer does for a living. 

And then, my fear came to fruition: Vuoi fare il caffè I panicked, alarm bells sounded.  Merda! What do I do? There's no way to fake making a post-dinner espresso for a table of Italians. After quick deliberation, I decided to do the only thing I could- laugh awkwardly, then feign amnesia. Time passed, and with a cocktail of nonchalance and apologetic gaze, I was eventually able to casually observe how it was done by a trained professional. Saved.  

I moved to Italy three weeks ago and after the first week, experienced another close call when the black handle of our trusted yet abused percolator detached. Considering my unemployed status, I took an outing to the local supermarket and purchased a shiny, new espresso maker. It was brilliant and I was excited to devirginize it immediately. Giulio kindly reminded me that I had to craft one batch of disposal espresso before consuming the first cup. Not wanting to waste a ration of the good stuff, I rummaged through the cabinet to find something old and oxidized, and was pleased to find a tin of stuff that smelled like shit. So I loaded up the percolator, placed it on the stove, then stepped out of the kitchen (pending the size of the device, it usually takes 7-10 minutes to brew).

Two minutes later I reemerged to the kitchen to find the machine rattling, hissing, frothing, and generally appearing as though it were vomitting black tar. What the hell did I put in there? I investigated the coffee tin which was naturally written exclusively in Italian, opened up my computer, and frantically typed in all the bolded words I could make out into google translate.  Apparently I had filled the diddy with instant chicory. bad move. (though as a mini digression, I'm alarmed that we even had it in our cabinet in the first place.)

Primarily concerned with exposing my vapid self to Giulio, I threw the pot in the sink, rinsed it, scrubbed it, sprayed down the stove (covered in black goo) and refilled the percolator with real espresso, just in time for Giulio to walk in to the first legitimate batch being brewed. He smiled at me and rubbed my back as if to suggest he was proud of my domestic aptitude. And then we drank.


Kiel said...

Just finished a pot myself! Best coffee I've ever made for myself at home. I would highly recommend, what I call, the "slow burn". Turn the burner on low and let the Bialetti do its thing for 15/20 mins. It's worth the wait. No hissing, no steaming, no boiling over. Just a thick, almost chewy, pot of black gold. Enjoy!

Liv said...

Excellent tip- will definitely heed this advice!

Anonymous said...

I need to order replacement rings for my bialetti, which has seen it's fair share of mishaps... Besides, you have to build up a nice patina on it, inside and out. ;)


Mad Dog said...

Well rescued! But why did you have chicory in the house, anyway? In my youth we had this stuff in the house:

A Scottish product, apparently (yes, Scotland -home of such culinary delights as the deep fried Mars bar and curried haggis with chips). No comment on the name or the colonial-themed label. The stuff contained 25% chicory, "coffee essence" (?!) and sugar. It was ok as cake flavouring but vile to drink. No wonder the introduction of Nescafé was regarded as the best thing since the invention of boiling water...

Mad Dog said...

BTW, while you are at The Source you should get one of these:

(I don't really like those percolators as they often render the coffee bitter and if left unattended can have the properties of a tactical thermonuclear device)