Friday, March 9, 2007

58 Million Italians Can't Be Wrong

My beaten-up old girl.

I am feeling lazy. It is mid-afternoon. When I am lazy, I don’t like to do too much, as befits the definition. It is that particular sort of idle exhaustion having not expended any effort whatsoever.

I call her the little engine that could, a silvery sweetheart with a wasp waist, rubber arm and sturdy seat. Alfonso Bialetti invented her in 1933, and she’s been a little runaround in kitchens all over Italy and Europe ever since. She is a romantic icon of the days before everything electric, literally a steam engine, gurgling up three shots of earthy, almost smoky elixir in about 10 minutes. If you stand very still and cock your head to the burner, you will hear the finest hiss of heat escape through the pinprick valve. This is enough for me. Two shots later, my eyes are clearer, and I am seeing my kitchen as if for the first time. I need to get moving on that chicken stock now. I no longer just think, I do. I’ll chop some fresh onions, carrots and celery, grind a bit of thyme in my green marble mortar. I am no longer lazy. I am now the little engine that could.


  1. Susan - When Eric and I first lived together in Los Angeles, our primary purchase was not bed linen but an espresso machine - albeit a Krups (i.e. not Italian) one that can only make two espressos in one go, but it did the trick. That was 7 years ago, and the machine is only now showing signs of sub-par espresso production, which isn't bad for $90-odd. In NZ I have a percolater like yours, but mine has a faint lime green bust! It produces good espresso, and I buy freshly roasted beans weekly. There is nothing like a classy, strong brew to get one going. I should imagine that in New York you are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing ace coffee beans...

  2. Hi, Shaun. $90 is reasonable for an espresso maker, considering some can go as high as $500US or more. Yes, we're spoiled here, but some coffee is prohibitively expensive, the way we drink it. We've settled on various fair trade, organic Central American beans at $15/pound with occasional forays into Indonesia, but I'm not averse to a cheap can of Chock-Full-O-Nuts, a vintage American brand still in production.

  3. Susan - Good on you for making the ethical fair trade/organic purchases. When in Los Angeles, I usually go to Jones and Peets, and I have NO IDEA if theirs is organic. I never even thought to look. I saw organic beans sold at Whole Foods years ago and was too scared to try them. If YOU buy organic beans, I should give it a go as I trust your tastes...

  4. I'm just now seeing this post! I bought a Bialetti recently and was going to do a post about it myself! I really like the contraption—and it reminds me of my childhood.