I’m fortunate to get to travel. I’m even more fortunate that I seem to find old friends and new friends along the way. I was pleasantly surprised a few months ago when one of my co-workers told me that we would be in Italy at the same time. Naturally we had to meet up if we could, and my last night in Milano provided us with that opportunity.
In Italy you enjoy an appertivo before your meal. Amanda and I decided to meet in the Brera neighborhood because it was a good halfway point for both of us. She and her partner have a glass of Chianti. I order a Negroni and I’m shocked when it comes in a highball. Maybe we are at a bit of a touristy place? It seems like everyone is speaking in Italian. Allora, I enjoy what I can, and then we head off to find something for dinner.
We head to a spot that Amanda’s teacher has recommended for the evening. It’s an Italian ristorante they look at us and bring the menus in English. We have a delicious meal of Parmesan, assorted meat cuts, crusty breads gnocchi and lasagna. We are happy. Dessert? We couldn’t possibly. How about a caffe corretto? The server is surprised I know what that is. Would I like it with Sambuca or grappa. I go for the sambuca Amanda orders one too.
Caffe corretto is espresso served with alcohol. Generally brandy, grappa (I would describe this as grape moonshine. They take the skins from grapes after making wine and distill them) or Sambuca (an anise liquor.) Some bartenders allow you to add your own alcohol to the espresso. While others just put a half ounce in. This is a drink that was created to help extend the amount of coffee you had. Today we see coffee everywhere, especially in Italy. But, it used to be a very expensive luxury. During the fascist regime in Italy in the 1930s coffee was hard to come by. But the government wanted workers to be productive so they encouraged the drinking of espresso. Caffe Corretto (corrected coffee) was a popular drink in the morning for people living in Northern Italy, and an evening after dinner digestive for people living in Southern Italy. There are other ways to “extend coffee” but this one is my favorite. Today this drink is consumed after a meal. But, mostly older people drink it. This was my first Caffe Corretto but, it won’t be my last. The combination of espresso and anise is a great balance.