During the Spring 2012 I taught one of many interdisciplinary undergraduate seminars in the Experimental Study Group at MIT. Each class is based on the preparation of a simple delicious dish and on the bite-sized acquisition of parts of the Italian language and culture.
Videography by Graham Gordon Ramsay.

Click here to watch the videos in full resolution.
Buon divertimento!

[Safari and Google Chrome users may have trouble loading the audio files. Try to use Firefox or Internet Explorer instead!]

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lezione numero nove: un caffè per favore

 A famous song about coffee. Lo Zecchino d'oro is a popular children's song festival.
I bet you can understand most of the words  =)

Last week we had un ospite speciale: Fiorenzo Omenetto, Professore di Ingegneria Biomedica a Tufts. He did not join us to talk about his wondrous research (if you are curious you can learn about it here!), but to make tiramisù and chat about the italian coffee, il caffè italiano.

For the videos of this class click here.

Let's refresh some vocabolario!

- il bar in Italia is not a place where they serve just alcoholic drinks, but it refers also to a coffee house. People drink coffee al bar all the time, mostly standing at the counter (italian coffee is so small that you do not need to sit or carry it with you to drink it)

- caffè really refers to espresso, and it is served in a tazzina (una tazza piccola= a small cup)

- there is no small, medium, large: you either simply ask for un caffè (regular size), or
caffè doppio/caffè lungo (double/long: it has a little more water) or
caffè ristretto (lit. shrinked ->more concentrated, with less water)

- caffè macchiato caldo, "stained" with a tiny bit of warm frothed milk
macchia=spot, stain macchiare= to stain, caldo =hot

- caffè macchiato freddo, served with a tiny bit of cold (freddo) milk on the side, in a small jug

- cappuccino, served in a cup, it needs no explanation...but if you order cappuccino in the city of Trieste you may be disappointed, as they would serve you a miniature cappuccino, similar to a macchiato caldo. Trieste has its own coffee vocabulary that you may want to check before a trip. =)

- marocchino (lit. from Morocco): espresso, frothed milk, cocoa powder, served in una tazzina

- caffè corretto espresso "corrected" with a shot of liquor, typically grappa or sambuca

- caffè d'orzo, espresso made from barley, it is decaf and the taste is different, worth trying. It can be ordered in all the variations, just like a normal caffè.

- caffè decaffeinato or caffè HAG (from the name of a common brand)

- d'estate (di estate, during the summer) you can find caffè freddo

- caffelatte (or caffè latte) is the american latte; we make it mostly at home for colazione, it is very rare to hear anyone ordering un caffelatte al bar

- a casa, everyone makes caffè by using... the italian coffee maker, called caffettiera (also called moka, or Bialetti, from the name of the original brand).

La caffettiera - la moka - la Bialetti

Some other famous songs about caffè: 

Fabrizio De Andre’ --- Don Raffae’ (in dialect)

Zecchino d’oro --- Ninna del chicco del caffe’


If you are not sure about the pronunciation of any of the words, write a comment below and I will post the audio. Try first on your own!

1) Leggi ad alta voce e traduci (=translate), then repeat without reading. This is the most common conversation al bar

Cameriere: Buongiorno!
Cliente: Buongiorno! Un caffè per favore
Cameriere: Prego
Cliente: Grazie, quant'è?
Cameriere: Novanta centesimi [cheaper than Starbucks ;)]
Cliente: Ecco qua!
Cameriere: Ecco lo scontrino, arrivederci

2) Completa le frasi (follow the hints, although some blanks have no hint!), leggi ad alta voce e traduci.

Andrea (in italian it is a male name): Ciao, ---- -----[how are you]?
Giacomo: Ciao, -----! --- ---[and you]?
A: Bene, ---- [can I] offrirti -- caffè?
G: Volentieri. Oh! Cosa ---- fatto alla mano?
A: Mi sono ------- mentre preparavo le melanzane
G: Mi dispiace
A: Non fa -----[nothing]. ---- melanzane alla parmigiana sono il mio ----- preferito
G: mmm, anche a me ------ molto.
A: Due caffè,-----!
G: Uno macchiato, per favore.
Cameriere: ----- [here it is]
A: Grazie
G: Grazie. -------[what do you do this weekend]?
A: ---[I have] una dozzina di compiti da correggere
G: ----[I understand]. Ma poi? Fa caldo, ----[we go] al mare con Giovanni, Sara e i suoi cugini,
vieni anche tu!
A: -----[good] idea. ---- lavoro come va?
G: Bene, ---[tomorrow I have] un colloquio per una promozione...
A: In bocca --- ----!
G: Crepi, grazie, spero di ---[to be] all'altezza
A: ------[I do not have] dubbi
G: ------- ---- ------[thank you, and thank you for the coffee]
A: Di ------. Ci vediamo. Ciao!
G: Ciao, --- ---- ---- [I call you when] decidiamo ---- -----[where to go]
A: Ok, benissimo

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