In the film Despicable Me, the lead character revels in being despicable. I, however, will be blogging today about being pretentious. (You can decide if I’m reveling or merely revealing.)
I had spent part of this morning (and much of last evening) drawing many, many lines (nearly 5,000, in fact) for the maps for walks 6 & 7 of the upcoming Casanova guidebook. I really needed to get out of the house. So I drove to Palo Alto (that’s 30 minutes each way) to have a cup of coffee at Cafe Venetia. That’s a long way to go for a cup of coffee and to pretend I’m doing something Venetian. Cafe Venetia originally opened as Caffe del Doge, the real Venetian caffe, with Venetian baristas (sorry, baristi) brought in to train the American staff. They have a spritz on the menu, though it does’t quite capture the Venetian spritz as I know them. (Beppe at Bar Tiziano still makes my favorite.) (Geez, I’m already being pretentious and I’m not even to the description of my actual pretentiousness from today!)
So at Cafe Venetia, I had to wait a while in line at the counter, enough time to ponder how I would order. I noticed that the two baristi spoke with accents–presumably Italian accents. Should I simply order my decaf espresso, like a normal American, or should I say “espresso zero,” which was how they named it on the menu? As I continued to wait, with the smell of coffee in my nose and the sounds of the espresso machine in my ears, images of Caffe Brasilia passed through my mind. It’s the rather unremarkable but most local caffe on the Strada Nova where I often get morning coffee when I stay in that neighborhood in Venice. The baristi there generally remember me and say, “cappuccio deca?” when I enter. That’s Venetian shorthand for a cappucino decaf. Ordering my espresso today at the Cafe Venetia might be the only time this summer I get to order coffee in Italian (and be understood).
So I did.
I believe the barista lifted half his mouth in a smile (or was it a smirk)? It made me happy, I didn’t harm anyone, and I’m confessing my sin here. And looking forward to the next time I get to order my cappuccio deca in Italy.