Un Minuto con…

By Rosario Mariani, http://www.europebychoice.com

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Espresso Coffee with a Lemon Twist

When visiting New York City, many Italian tourists are perplexed as to why Italian restaurants serve espresso with a lemon twist on the side.

Even finer establishments adhere to this Italian American tradition, while in Italy no such combination exists. The only time Italians take lemon with their hot drinks is with tea and only when they do not feel well. There are two major reasons that I can come up with and you can pick the one you like the best.

First, during the first half of the 20th Century, Italians from the poor southern towns, craved for coffee but the blends that reached the small towns were of poor quality and the taste was never consistent.  Therefore, to give the coffee a better taste, they often added a bit of grappa “per aggiustare il gusto”.  Immigrants who came to America found that the coffee was not any better than the blend they left behind in the old country.  Unfortunately, they could not afford to buy grappa so they reverted to twisting a lemon peel that became a good substitute. It worked well and the tradition started and prospered with the coming generations.

The second explanation is that when drinking coffee outside the home, the washing and sterilization of the cup was not always done.  To prevent any infection, the customers would use a lemon peel to rub around the rim to sterilize it.

In conclusion if you have another “twist” to this story, let me know about it.

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Ancient Roman tradition!

During ancient Roman times one always entered the home of a friend on their right foot. The left side of the body was thought to portend evil.  The Latin word for left is sinister, thus our English word sinister stands for anything threatening or malevolent.


Rosario Mariani is the owner/CEO of Europe By Choice, which promotes travel to Italy and other select European countries. He has more than 40 years of experience in the travel industry, previously serving as Director of Italy Product for Italiatour and Club ABC Tours, and also in other positions with EuroFly, Alitalia and Air France.

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