Saturday, 10 May 2008

Frappe and instant coffee (Φραππέ και νεσκαφέ)

... (the beginning of the story can be found at the Hania daily photo site)

“Would you like a frappe, Maria?” she asked me. I told her that I never drink frappe coffee, even though I’ve been in Greece long enough to know that everyone drinks frappe and nothing else. At work, when I ask for a instant cup of hot coffee, they ask me how I can drink the stuff in the heat. I would dearly love to ask them which heat they are talking about, since all the rooms are air-conditioned, and you need a shawl to cover your back so you don't get a chill. I don't know what it is with Greeks and those cold frothy coffees they serve here, which all tourists find a novelty when they first come here and order them at the old harbour. A friend of mine once told me that the coffee grounds used to make it contain Greek olive oil-based soap, which is what creates the froth (soap suds?!?), but I'm wondering if that's just a way to advertise their product: "Drink frappe: the cleanest coffee in the world." I wonder if tourists would still drink it if they realised just how much coffee is used to make one frappe: nearly one tablespoon! Don't they wonder why their nerves are jittery afterwards? Do they know that it could bore holes through their intestines?

... (the end of the story can be found at the Hania daily photo site)

A whole coffee-table book has been dedicated to the making of this unique, utterly Greek-born, elixir, which has caught on all over the Balkans (and beyond). To make cold frothy frappe coffee, you need:
a large teaspoon of granular instant coffee
1-2 teaspoons of sugar
a shaker
a large glass
a straw
ice cubes
refrigerated water
milk (optional)
Measure the coffee and sugar into a shaker, and a little bit of the refrigerated water - about three tablespoons. Close the shaker, and shake the mixture about until the coffee becomes frothy and hardly any runny liquid is left in the shaker. Pour this froth into a glass and add some ice cubes to reach the top of the glass. Add as much cold water (and milk) needed to top up the glass. Stick a straw into it.

Enjoy this coffee while sitting on a balcony overlooking the sea, having cancelled all your morning's appointments. If you're having it at a cafe, sip on it slowly - it's meant to last you at least an hour. Don't do what I did when I first came to Greece - I drank it in the same way that I enjoy a cup of hot coffee, prompting my cousin to say: "Hey, slow down! If you drink frappe so quickly, what are you going to do for the rest of the time that we're sitting in the cafe?"

I must admit that I didn't make this frappe; I much prefer my coffee percolated. And for a completely different perspective on coffee, try Abraham's coffee soup or maybe some Cretan mountain tea.

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