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Italy with Kids
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 What is an Italian Barista? . Kids Europe Newsletter 
 
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Greetings,

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Discover Italy Newsletter, a weekly publication designed to help families prepare for their travels (even armchair travel) in Italy. If you do not wish to receive future issues, simply unsubscribe using the link at the bottom of this issue.

Baristas work in bars which, in Italy, are refreshment stores. Italian bars do sell alcoholic beverages, but their main business is to provide coffee whenever needed and many other refreshments for adults and children. Yes, children may enter bars. They sell snack foods and ice cream in addition to beverages.

Travel tip: In Italy, beverages aren't necessarily chilled, so if you want your drink cold, say "freddo per favore" fray dough pear fah vore eh. Italians also don't usually put ice in their drinks; you have to ask for it. Say "Con ghiaccio per favore" cone gee ah cho pear fah vore eh.

(c) Copyright Kids Europe 2004.

in this issue
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Creative Italian Beverages For Everybody
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Italy with Kids You can get Coke and Pepsi in Italy (they are everywhere, I think), but you can be much more creative. Explore a whole new world of delicious beverages that has nothing to do with canned sodas. A barista will mix interesting beverages for you using the bottles of flavored syrups and soda or mineral water. If it is a slow time, you might ask the barista to suggest a beverage s/he can mix for you. On a hot day, a suggestion may be a drink made with Orzata, an almond flavored syrup.

Fun to do at home: Be your own barista and mix wonderful, flavorful drinks, smoothies, and slushes (granitas) using flavored syrups (see Coffee AM), fruit juice, fruit nectar, club soda, tonic water, milk, and herb tea. For recipes for hundreds of non-alcoholic beverages see the Torani website. Be creative, and invite your friends to try your creations.

In the US, the flavored syrups are found almost exclusively in gourmet coffee shops where they are used to flavor coffee. There are so many better ways to use them other than ruining a good cup of coffee;-) I found the Coffee AM site that will sell and ship you flavored syrups in the US. Their price is a little less than in the few stores that I find carry them.

Mineral Water - Acqua Minerale While in Italy do try different types of bottled mineral water that you will find in bars, restaurants, and grocery stores. There are two basic kinds, still and bubbly. The bubbly is called "frizzante," fizzy. There are hundreds of varieties from different wells. They have different, subtle flavors depending on the minerals they carry and are thought to have different healthful effects. The Fine Waters website lists a hundred varieties, details their mineral content, and describes each. While in Italy, you could collect mineral water bottle labels.

Espresso and Cappuccino
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Italy with KidsA barista -- someone who works in a bar -- is responsible for making beverages, especially espresso coffee for Italians.

Italian coffee is roasted very dark, almost burnt, and that gives it a strong flavor. Then, baristas use about as much coffee as would make three mugs of American coffee and make one tiny cup of espresso. It really wakes people up! When you are in Italy it is fun to go to a neighborhood bar in the morning when people are on their way to work and watch them order their espressos. Do they look more awake when they leave?

If someone has a little more time for their morning coffee, they may ask for a cappuccino which is an espresso that has foamy steamed milk steamed into it. Cappuccinos are named after the Capuchin monks, who are, in turn, named after their brown, hooded robes that are called cappotti (related to the english word for cape).

Some people say they call the beverages cappuccinos because the milk and coffee make a brown color like the robes. The story I grew up with is that Capuchin monks wear a special, humble hair style called a tonsure where the hair is shaved on the top of their head. When you put the steamed milk in the coffee it migrates to the edges leaving an open area in the middle, sort of like the head of a Capuchin monk.

And here is yet another explanation for the name. A 17th-century friar named Marco d'Aviano is credited with halting a Muslim invasion of Europe and in the process discovering the frothy coffee drink cappuccino. When the vast Ottoman Turk army beat a path to Vienna in 1683, d'Aviano was sent by the then-pope to unite the outnumbered Christian troops, spurring them to victory. As the Turks fled, legend has it they left behind sacks of coffee which the Christians found too bitter, so they sweetened it with honey and milk. The drink was called cappuccino after the Capuchin order of monks to which d'Aviano belonged. More than 300 years after his death, Marco d'Aviano has recently reached the last step before sainthood, as the pope recognized the friar's miraculous work including curing a nun who had been bedridden for 13 years.

Well, have a cappuccino (decaf or hot chocolate for kids) and, when you are in Italy, look for Capuchin monks and then, you decide how the drink got its name! By the way, Italians drink cappuccinos only in the morning.

Italy Discovery Journal
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Italy with Kids This kid-focused guide book and journal offers more than 500 ideas to help kids and their families enjoy travel in Italy. It reduces whining and gets them engaged in popular culture, goofy observations, and strange history.

The Italy Discovery Journal features a whole page of about beverages and a very popular page on gelato.

"Thank you for your contribution to a wonderful visit to Italy with our children....it definitely enhanced our time and your observations about Italy came into play in a different way than our guide book. We vastly preferred all glimpses of 'real' Italy which pre-reading your book helped us to catch...the bride and groom posing at the coliseum, the arguing taxi drivers, kissing couples...etc. The gelato page was a big hit with my younger child and we really liked some of the 'color' stories you added to the major sights in Rome. It was like a guide book for kids." Laurie T

Find out more about the Italy Discovery Journal... »

Word of the Week: Espresso
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Espresso comes from the Italian word for pressure because steam is forced through the ground coffee under high pressure. Many people think it has something to do with "express" and being fast. Watch a good barista work and you will understand how people could get that idea. A suggestion is to go to a bar in Italy or even a gourmet coffee store in your country and order a cappuccino for an adult and watch all the steps it takes to make it and how quickly the barista moves.

Next week: The Mysterious Etruscans

A Good Guide Book
Italy with Kids
You can't have just one guide book. You need a number of them. One of the ones I recommend for the adults of families traveling in Italy is Italy With Kids. The author provides excellent ideas about where to go and stay together with tips on what kids might like.

Amazon Page for Italy with Kids

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Italy with Kids Guide Book

Recipes for Young Baristas

Italy Discovery Journal

That Sells Syrups for Beverages

Fine Waters Index of Italian Mineral Waters

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