Sunday, February 20, 2011

Una mano di tenere (A hand to hold)

"I'll take a cappuccino, please."

I say it in English, stumbling over my thoughts...realizing how strange it sounds to order a cappuccino in any language--other than Italian.

Despite my disappointment in having to order in English, I suddenly get excited for what it is to come--my first cappuccino in nearly twenty days, my first mug of something other than a Dunkin cup of coffee, my first mug of froth and first hand to hold, by an arm that hangs off the side of a beautiful artistic, original, unique cafe mug...

Wait a second.

I look at what is placed in front of me. 'Is that a soup bowl?' My thoughts get disheveled. My friends are speaking, but I don't hear them. I look at it again, and I think, 'At least it's not made of styrofoam, but similar to my Dunkin coffee, something is missing...there is no hand to hold,' I pout quietly to myself. The Le Pain Quotidien waitress has placed an armless mug in front of me--an amputated mug. I almost want to ask if this mug has gone through battle, if the arm had to be removed due to some fight it got in with a teacup in the dishwasher. But I sit quietly.

I manage to get a few words out to my friends, "The foam looks fabulous," I say out loud, and I let my friend, who has ordered a simple cup of coffee to dip her spoon in for a taste.

'But there's no hand to hold,' I repeat in my head.

For $4.15, I want a hand to hold.

I cup my hands around the bowl-like mug. The mug is warm and burns the tips of my fingers. Instead of a hand to hold, a comforting hand that lets my fingers stay cool while a warm pool of espresso and milk touches the insides of my mouth, I am getting a full, blown, on-fire hug. I love hugs, adore them, but this one hurts...this one burns.

I put the mug down, and dip my spoon, in order to indulge in the bubbles that I am faced with.


I reach to put my hands, again, around the cappuccino, hoping this hug will be more comforting.

It isn't.

I swallow my words, and continue to dip my spoon in shoveling bubbles into my mouth. On the outside I seem like I am in pure happiness, but on the inside I am calming myself from doing something utterly and ultimately disastrous. 'I could go into the back kitchen and search for a mug that hasn't gone through battle...I could go down the street to buy a new mug--This is Manhattan--there'd have to be a mug store somewhere...right?'

But I sit. And I sip. And I put my hands around the bowl as it begins to cool. And I give it one last hug with my hands, and I think: 'Oh you poor little cappuccino could have had so much potential.'

Friday, February 18, 2011

"è appena il latte" (It's just milk)





The dollar signs and the numbers that follow stare me deeply in the eyes. This is a stark contrast to the 1 Euro that I often read on an outdoor menu at a cute cafe in Tuscany, along a tiny alley-way beside the Pantheon, or below Juliet's balcony in Verona.

"$3.15 for a cappuccino," I think to myself. "We sure aren't in Italy anymore," I add to that thought.

I absolutely dread the idea of walking into a coffee shop or a corporate entity in New York City with the inability to order a simple cup of coffee with a delicious topping of foam. I hate the fact that when I reach to my back pocket to count my money, all I pull out is two crumply ones with 28 cents attached so I can afford the large Dunkin caramel flavored coffee--In Italy that would be 1.5 cappuccino--1.5 cups of deliciousness.

I feel lost without my daily dose of cappuccino. I'm a little more groggy than usual, and I haven't had a steady intake of vitamin D in over half a month.

I haven't had a cappuccino in nearly 20 days.

I don't know if I am going through detox--or withdrawal. Lust...or Loss....Love...or denial.

What I do know is:

I haven't had a cappuccino in nearly 20 days.

I sigh as I get through the end of my work day on the 26th floor--as I take one look out the window with quite possibly the best view in all of Manhattan..."I just want a cappuccino," I whisper out loud.

"Do you know any good coffee shops?" I ask my co-worker.

She springs off two names, nearly instantly.

"I want to revive my cappuccino blog...But I'll have to do it in spurts...Unfortunately, lint at the bottom of my pockets doesn't even afford a packet of sugar in the raw."

"It's just milk." She says pondering why a cappuccino could ever be so expensive.

"It's just milk," She repeats. "A cappuccino in New York City--for a little bit of froth--cost the same amount as a gallon of milk."

I laughed.

"It's just milk."

She's right. The price of a cappuccino in New York City is the equivalent of buying a gallon of milk.

But would that gallon of milk be frothed? Would it be so enticing that my rubber ducky would want to swim around in it?

Probably not.

And most of the cappuccino in New York City probably won't provide me with the Sant'Eustachio bubbles--or the Bull Dog chocolate--or the Museum of Cappuccino magic....

But that's why I am taking the opportunity to empty my pockets once a week, to rediscover my Italian love, to engage in fulfilling the hole in my heart where froth used to fill--to find the BEST cappuccino in the city that never sleeps--to find the best cappuccino that helps it to be a city that never sleeps. To find the best New York City cappuccino. To find my love.