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How to Correct Your Coffee

“Did you drink my coffee?” Tizi asks.

“Yes, by accident.”

We’ve just finished a satisfying lunch. In Italy a post-prandial blast of espresso adds an exclamation mark to the experience. Lately she’s been taking her coffee “corrected.” With a dash of “mistra,” the local anise flavored grappa. Typically my wine intake at the table is higher than hers, so I finish with straight coffee. This day the server gets the two coffees mixed up. As soon as I toss it I know, Yes, this one was hers. And Yes, this is how I should be drinking mine. Correct.

Whoever the Italian was that originated the notion of “corretto” did so with a smile on his face. The term reflects the Italian sense of humor. Coffee without that little umph a dose of grappa adds is incorrect. It’s wrong. 

It’s like: A few weeks ago, at a Sunday lunch, we began with a dish of pasta. Tizi had ravioli alla boscaiola, a lovely light mushroom sauce. When the cook/chef came by our table, she pointed at her dish and said, “Well these are really terrible.” He smiled and responded, “If they’re that bad, we’ll just have to make you some more.” 

But coffee–

You drink espresso, incorrect or corrected, hot. And you drink it fast. No prissy sipping and tasting. It’s not coffee and dessert, together. It’s Dessert. Then coffee. You down it in one gulp. The theory is it aids in digestion. I believe that’s bunk. But it does give you a clear sense of closure.

Lately, perhaps because we are eating a little more often down in the direction of Fano, I’ve been ordering a “moretta.” It’s a coffee drink typical of that area. You can ask for a moretta in San Marino. They’ll say, “We don’t make that here.” You can ask for one in Rimini. They’ll say, “We don’t make that here.” In Fano, and possibly in Pesaro, you get a cup of espresso with a little rum, a little anise, a little brandy, a little sugar (as if it needed that), and a tiny bit of lemon peel.  It requires a few ceremonial stirs to mix the ingredients, then, POW. Down the hatch. 

The origins are obscure. The moretta was a coffee drink the fishermen of Fano prepared to defend against the cold. The moretta was served by a black-haired woman (a “mora”) who laced the coffee with brandy.

Love the folklore. Enjoy the coffee.  When in Fano…

800 – 1000 g di zucchero, a piacere 

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