In casa, un espresso come al bar!
June 2, 2017 Home Pag

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In casa, un espresso come al bar!
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Italians love coffee, it’s no secret.

Well, for the overwhelming majority of Italians, coffee means a Bialetti Moka Express coffee maker. I was supremely confused by the fact that in the U.S. "moka" means coffee with chocolate. For Italians, moka is synonymous with home-made coffee. According to Bialetti’s website, more than 90% of Italians own at least one Moka Express coffee maker.

I have four.

They come in different sizes, so I have a 1-cup, a 3-cup, and a post-drinking binge hangover curing (or alternatively all-nighter pulling) 6-cup giant — although some will scoff and scorn, and point out that it is merely the half-way point of Bialetti sizes, because the moka comes in a 9- and even a 12-cup size. And, because there is nothing worse than waking up in the morning in a strange place and not being able to drink a decent cup of caffĂ©, a Bialetti Elettrika, a 2-cup moka with a heating base that plugs into any 110 v to 240 v outlet (and can even work with a car’s cigarette lighter outlet, provided you buy the appropriate adapter, which I feel might be a little excessive, like bordering on an OCD-ish need to have coffee that I’m not comfortable indulging, and therefore I do not own) for a perfect coffee on the go.

As advertisements for the machine have pointed out since the early days, the original Bialetti Moka is only the one with l’omino con i baffi ("the little man with the mustache"). He’s vaguely coffee pot-shaped, a little large in the belly, and always pointing up, in the typical gesture of someone ordering a coffee at a bar (in Italy, bars are where you get coffee — and wine and beers and croissants and snacks and so forth, but principally, really, bars are defined by the fact that there is an espresso coffee machine. Pubs are a newfangled import from Ireland and England, characterized by the presence of beer and other spirits but not coffee, and generally nobody under 35).

Apparently, Bialetti was founded by Mr. Alfonso Bialetti, who had worked in an aluminum factory, and one day, while watching women wash clothes in these round washing machines, had the inspiration to build a better coffee machine, that would use steam to force water through the grounds. Until then, there was no real choice but to go to a coffee bar, where coffee was made via pressured "espresso" machines. In 1933, Alfonso came up with the Moka Express.

The great advantages of this new machine were that a) it was exceedingly simple to use; b) it made really good coffee, a valid substitute for what you could get at a bar (in fact, their slogan was a casa, un espresso meglio che al bar, "in your home, a better espresso than at the bar"); and finally, strangely, c) that they were made of aluminum instead of steel. Supposedly an inferior material, Bialetti claimed that the advantage of aluminum is that it absorbs the flavors from previous brews, so that with successive coffees the pot becomes "seasoned", and the quality of the product keeps improving with use. This is why you should never ever clean your Moka with soap, it will just get rid of all that loving seasoning that’s been accumulating.

Alfonso, however, was not a good marketer, and sales stagnated until his son, Renato, took over the company after World War II. He started a massive marketing campaign, which, combined with the post-war economic boom in Italy, pushed sales of Moka machines to 4 million units per year! And he came up with L’Omino, apparently a caricaturish portrait of his father.

Now they sell all kinds of new and complicated coffee makers, some that make "american style" coffee, some that guarantee the presence of crema (the little layer of froth on top of espresso), but for me, all I need is a good old Moka Express. After all, it will just keep getting better the more I use, right?

Info gathered from I need coffee and Bialetti’s website.

Murten Hotel 1
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This was my room at the Hotel Murtenhof in Murten.

Continuing the story: the 2.7K Per Night Chapter
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After the tiring ardent spring swimming and the tour of the island, by 5:30PM we decided to take a rest. We went to the treehouse and it was really dark when we arrived. There WAS NO ONE HOME. In the middle of a mountain in an island known for aswangs, it really really freaked me out. Takutin ako eh. Gigi was more freaked out basi kuno ma-rape kami, far in the kanto there were tambays drinking outside. (While going inside the treehouse, they asked us if we need a tricycle going outside).

There’s no light, Peter didn’t switch it on. There’s no signal so we can’t contact him. At that point we decided, to hell with it, we’re leaving money and we’re off. We walked out again the pathway to the main road looking for a tricycle to bring us to Paras Beach Resort (the resort we thought, "kamahal, super, we can’t afford this!").

We got a trike, he brought us to the tree house again so we can get our things, and while going inside, we saw Peter. Peter got a verbal lashing from Gigi, hahaha! We’re guests, expected dapat they should not be leaving us with no light at all, and they should not be leaving the house with no one there! Peter was telling us, he just need to buy something…but the feeling for that 30minutes that we were both alone, harrowing sya eh.

While packing up, gigi went to the balcony outside to get her wet towel…and I was left alone in the dark with my cellpone light on. And then I heard a far but distinct "tick tick tick* sound and I froze. Literally super froze. And then I was putting all my stuff in my backpack, hair at my back rising, my insides are trembling, all the stories of my bruha yaya from my childhood came rushing like wet water on my face: "mga aswang pag may ticktick na malayo ang sound, big sabihin malapit sila". I grabbed my bag, hollered at Gigi that we need to go and off we ride the trike.

In the trike we were talking trying to justify why we left that place. "Gi, di ba, if we feel we’re not safe, it’s our right to leave." And when I felt we’re so far away already I told her about the tiktik sound. "Oh is that way you were rushing to get out?" "Gi, I swear grabe gid ya." Gigi confirmed that the place was really kind of you know, alive .

I don’t know, looking at it now, maybe we were just paranoid. Maybe not. Maybe something could have happened if we stayed longer in that place. Maybe not. Whatever. All I know is that we were now booked in a 2,700 per night resort, it’s clean, it’s expensive, it’s a resort, no cultural immersion but at least, we FELT safe.

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