Coffee Around the World

Turkish Coffee

Coffee was first discovered in Yemen, south of Saudi Arabia. It is said that goat herders noticed their goats bouncing around gleefully after eating a strange bean from some trees. The earliest style of making coffee is not so different from traditional Arabic (now called Turkish) coffee. Incidentally, this is not terribly different from traditional Cowboy Coffee. It involves taking a copper pot, adding water and a VERY fine powdered coffee grind, and hovering it over a fire. This involves a very careful procedure, causing the coffee to foam slightly (but not boil!!) and pulling the pot away from the flame, and then putting it back on the fire to foam again 3 times. The coffee is carefully poured into tiny demitasse cups (no filtering: this is why the grind must be so fine). The advantage to this style is it gives the fullest coffee flavor, since the grinds are not filtered at all. Also, if you like yours sweet or flavored, you can add sugar and spices to the mix before cooking, causing all flavors to be infused!

The trick to drinking it, however, is that you must let it settle for a minute, and sip slowly. This is not a drink to rush off to the office with! When the drink gets low, the drinker must NOT take that one last sip! If they do, they will surely gag on coffee syrup that has the texture of mud. What should be done, however, is to flip the cup onto its saucer and wait (if you are with company, this is the most fun!) to then flip the cup and look at the designs of the coffee grinds. You can attempt to read your future, similar to reading tea leaves!

This strong drink packs more of a punch than espresso. This is the ORIGINAL energy drink! For college students, it is much healthier (and cheaper) than the toxic elixers found in cans on campus. It takes time to get the technique down, but the pots are so beautiful!

French Press

I do not know the history of the french press, but I use it almost every day! This involves a simple beaker with a filter plunger. You put in the coarsest grinds of coffee you can get (although the regular grind you buy in the store is fine). You pour boiling water over it. You need NO ELECTRICITY except if you need it to boil the water. Stir it up once, then put the lid on (without pressing on the plunger) for 3-5 minutes to brew. When the liquid is dark enough for your liking, press down on the pump and pour into your favorite cup! This looks lovely sitting on the breakfast table, especially at a ladies brunch, or for after-dinner coffee. This is a great way to get a very full flavor out of the coffee, while having the strength that of regular coffee rather than espresso.

Espresso

Italians loves Bialetti brand pots. They are similar to an inverted percolator. A shot of water is put in the bottom reservoir, a filter disk goes above where espresso-grind coffee is placed, and the top pot is screwed on. This is left on the stove top until you hear it boil. Let it boil all the way through (wait for the sound to stop- like popcorn!). Pour it into espresso or demitasse cups to enjoy! Another very traditional coffee experience, and much easier than America’s unnecessarily complex automatic espresso makers.

Drip Coffee 

This is the traditional American brew. There are several versions out there, but most commonly it is an automatic coffee maker with a filter. These can usually be programed to brew before you wake up, making it ideal for morning commutes. The problem with these is that much flavor is lost in the paper filters. “Gold filters” work better and there is less waste since they are reusable.

Latte

This is the Italian word for ‘milk’, and in reference to coffee, it is short for ‘caffe latte’ aka ‘cafe au lait’, or ‘coffee with milk’. This is one part regular coffee (from drip, percolator, or french press) and one part milk. This is a lovely light breakfast drink. Foam or whipped cream can be added but these are optional.

Cappuccino

This is a traditional breakfast drink, and should not be drunk any other time of day. Here is one shot espresso to one part milk. Foam or whipped cream is optional. The difference between a cappuccino and a latte is NOT the foam, like some seem to think, but is the strength of the coffee.

Macchiato

Very similar to the cappuccino, with a shot of espresso, but with just a drop of milk rather than an equal part. This is very strong, and should come in a small serving.

Espresso is a single shot, so it comes the size of a shot glass. Macchiato is just barely bigger, with just a splash of milk. Cappuccino is twice as big as an espresso, with an equal shot of milk. Latte is generally the same size as cappuccino, with a shot of coffee. However, this can be any size as long as they are equal. What is your favorite way to enjoy coffee?

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A Morphology Poem

“I was wildered and fuddled at my gruntled employee. She was quite chalant at her ept approach to work. She took a flated balloon and embowled it, using it to capitate a doll. This made me quite pressed. It seemed evitable given her hibitions; so strange. Beknownst to me, as I was plussed, she has been trepid for quite some time. Once things are taken off her plate she will begin to feel whelmed again, as long as she doesn’t linquish them. She is only vincible, after all.”

Adrienne LeFevre

Types of Travel Accommodations

In my travels, I have stayed in many different types of accommodations. It really depends on the specific area and experience you are looking for. There are hotels and hostels, bed & breakfast and couch surfing, apartments and campsites, monasteries and motels. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages. As a solo female traveler, there are some things to pay attention to.

Hotels: usually a more expensive option, this is traditional for holidays. There are some very luxurious chains and private resorts as well as some lower end ones that are borderline hostels or motels. This is ideal if you are looking for the nice extra touches and having a comfortable, private place to sleep and relax.

Hostels: a much cheaper option. These usually offer dorm-style beds, where you rent one bed in a room with possibly several other roommates that you likely have never met before. Most hostels offer a female-only room and some offer a choice of male-only or mixed/co-ed. I have always opted for female-only. It just feels safer. This is ideal if you are in an area specifically to see the area, and do not need a luxury accommodation. You simply need a bed and roof. They often include a simple breakfast, making this a VERY cheap choice. They can run under $30 USD in big cities for a bed and under $10 USD in smaller cities. I have even seen them for $2/night in some small cities.

They are really great as a young adult traveling, because you meet so many wonderful people! In Sorrento, I stayed in a luxury hostel called Seven Hostel  where I stayed in a room with 10 girls from around the world! This ran me around $26 USD/night. It was right off the Circumvesuviana train stop, VERY easy to find even with difficult luggage. I made friends with an archaeology student, and we visited Herculaneum together. What a great way to see the site! A personal guide and friend! If anyone is interested in visiting Naples or the Campagna region, including Pompeii, I HIGHLY recommend this hostel!

Do not expect the standards of a hotel. You generally get a bunk bed or similar, and often are given sheets (if they even include sheets! check before you arrive!!) and you make your own bed. You are also expected to unmake your bed when you leave! This is not hard once you get over the shock of having to do it once. It is worth the $20+ you are saving just for someone to make your bed for you! The best place to find hostels and even book them is hostelworld. You do have to pay a deposite but it is not bad, plus they give you excellent reviews by other young travelers and tell you EXACTLY what is included or not (breakfast, linnens, towels, A/C, etc)

B&B: these vary significantly. They are pretty explanatory: they include a bed and breakfast in the morning. Some may have half board and offer other meals but this is rare or, generally, at extra cost. They are very relaxing compared to the chaos of some hotels. It is often similar to staying with someone’s grandmother. You are an honored guest in someone’s house! I LOVE bed and breakfasts. They are so sweet and personal. They vary in price depending on the area. They are sometimes cheaper than a hotel, usually more than a hostel. Sometimes they can be run similar to hostels for cheaper prices. It all depends. Some do not accept credit tho most do these days. These are nice because the patron generally goes out of their way to be hospitable in ways that a normal hotel simply cannot! In America and the UK these are the common forms of housing in smaller cities and rural areas if you want to avoid motels. Europe also has Agrotourism, which is similar but on a farm and less of a travel business.

Monasteries: this will require an entire post of its own! This is a form of travel accommodations that few Americans even know exist! Yet, it is one of the original forms of hospitality! Monasteries have always been know to house travelers for a small fee. Today is no exception! There are monasteries all over the world and they vary extensively. I can only speak of my experiences in Italy. This is truly an exceptional form of travel for a solo female! In Italy, they did not call monasteries for nuns “convents” so they were all monasteries. Some are designed almost as hotels while others are more holy houses with rooms available for rent. Some have strict rules but many are quite relaxed, though you should always be respectful, and dress appropriately, especially at check-in/out. They are more expensive than hostels usually but are typically cheaper than hotels, and offer an entirely different experience! If you travel to Italy, seriously consider monasteries, at least once, especially if you travel alone or with children! Nuns LOVE children! The absolute BEST way to make arrangements is on Monastery Stays. Unfortunately, as of now it only works with monasteries in Italy, but they do the booking for you in Italian and give you material in English for a seamless check-in! The packets they give you include wonderful directions and maps, that are really necessary if you end up in a small city like Assisi where you have no idea of street names. My experience was life-changing. The grounds were perfect for meditating and re-centering myself after a very hectic time traveling around Italy. I had a delicious Italian breakfast every morning with my place setting ready and a place card for me every morning! There was a curfew of 11 pm but this was fine, and I felt safe knowing that it was locked and secured after 11. Really the best way to see smaller cities if you are a single woman or have children!

What types of accommodations do you prefer? Where is the most interesting place you have spent the night?

Carry-on Toiletries

Packing for airline travels can be daunting, especially if you are limiting yourself to a carry-on. Yet, what I typically pack doesn’t change much between spending 40 days traveling eastern Europe, 2 months living in Italy, a week in Seattle, or a weekend in Yosemite. To keep with TSA’s 3-1-1 rule, you need a 1 qt zippered clear bag. I found one at Walmart that is perfect. You can fit a lot of liquid in it as long as each is in a 100 ml or less bottle. Make sure that anything liquid, including makeup and mascara, is in this bag. Be aware of anything that says TSA-safe or travel-size, as I have seen some that are actually 4 oz, and they MUST be under 3.4 oz!

  • Deodorant does not need to be in here unless it is gel, liquid, or aerosol. My deodorant is always perfume scented so I don’t have to wear perfume that can make other travelers sneeze. Bring your regular bar unless it is liquid.
  • Travel, hotel, or sampler sized shampoo and conditioner. Even if you stay in hotels, they don’t always supply these, and I always prefer my usual shampoos. You can buy refillable 100ml bottles to use your own, or you can buy mini bottles of Tresemme or Head and Shoulders at Walmart, and Ulta has sample sizes in many fine brands.
  • Toothpaste in travel tubes (sold at Walmart and grocery stores)
  • Soap in bar form does not need to be in this bag, but in liquid for must meet the 100 ml rule. Again, you can refill a bottle with your favorite liquid, or you can buy a travel sized version from the store. The plus side to having liquid soap is that it can double as laundry soap!
  • Mouthwash: I recommend buying travel Listerine since the lids are more secure than refillable bottles.
  • Sunscreen (remember to keep it under 100 ml) can double as moisturizer with some products!
  • Nail polish is TOTALLY optional but I think it always makes me feel more put-together (a big plus when running around an airport)
  • Cold creme (such as Ponds) is GREAT for travel since it removes makeup and dirt without water! Keep it less than 100 ml.
  • Facial cleaning cloths (like Olay or any brand) are dry and disposable, so they don’t need to follow 3-1-1 and works great even in a public restroom. Very light, use very little space, and feel so luxurious!  Be sure to use it to clean your face and neck if you are stuck traveling for over 12 hours.
  • Perfume (be careful, since many people fly with asthma, so I prefer deodorant until I arrive) should be in a plastic bottle (less than 100 ml) to weigh less, must have a cap, and I prefer roll-on since it is more durable, especially if the cap is screw-on.
  • Chap stick (travel can be dry! and yes, this must be in the 3-1-1) can be tinted to double as lip color! I love Burt’s Bees since it doesn’t taste like petroleum.

What are your travel essentials? Have you done anything creative to deal with the new rules for flights?

Traveling Light

When I travel, I often see people carrying gigantic suitcases overloaded with stuff they probably don’t need for a weekend trip to visit relatives. When I ask them why they travel with so much stuff, they usually reply “I want to be comfortable”. This, to me, seems to be a paradox. Because, honestly, these people genuinely do NOT look comfortable. Carrying heavy bags up flights of stairs, fitting them into overhead compartments on trains, waiting 30 minutes or so for their luggage to come into the baggage claim areas… I don’t understand. If you are backpacking in the woods by yourself for a week or two, I can appreciate the boy scout mantra “Be Prepared”. But even backpackers have to carry all their junk with them!

I can pack for an entire 3-day weekend trip in my medium purse. What’s inside?

  • 2 shirts (rolled up around toothbrush case)
  • 1 PJ pants or shorts
  • 3 panties (lightweight or lacy ones hand wash and dry really fast)
  • 1 lightweight wrinkle-proof skirt OR denim shorts
  • 1-2 pair of socks (if necessary)
  • 1 toothbrush in clean travel case
  • 1 bar of deodorant (perfumed ones can eliminate the need for separate perfume below)
  • small container for bare minimum makeup (1 mineral makeup, 1 eye shadow palate, lipstick, and minimum brushes)
  • 1 quart zippered bag (if flying by air and there will be no toiletries there) containing:
  • 1 venus razor head (no handle unless there is room)
  • 1 travel toothpaste bottle
  • 1 shampoo/conditioner <100 mL
  • 1 bar of soap or liquid soap <100 mL
  • 1 bottle of face soap <100 mL
  • 1 trial-sized bottle of perfume
  • any liquid makeup required for event (mascara/foundation) <100 mL

Now, if the event I were going to required a bit more beauty, I might include a straightener and I MIGHT need to upgrade to a backpack or small carry-on, but I cannot imagine needing a checked bag for less than a week (with the exception of strollers and sporting equipment, etc). What do you think you might need?

Once Upon a Word

Coming from a linguistic background, I can’t help but feel my blood boil when people try to say that the English language is under assault. They make claims that certain languages are better than other languages, that certain dialects are a degradation of the superior dialects, that only certain words with certain word forms should be used, and only if they are pronounced in certain ways. This is absurd. Language is a living, breathing, organism… well, maybe not literally so, but pretty darn close! I found on Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary a following of facebookers all gnashing at each others’ throats over the fairly recent addition of the word “ginormous” to the official English dictionary. English majors came out of the woodworks, all FURIOUS at this violation on the “King’s English!” (ironically, they all appeared to be Americans who did not speak the King’s English anyways).

One phrase thrown around a lot was that it was evidence of the “dumbing down” of America. I normally don’t entertain this sort of pointless rant, but here I could not resist. Where one of these threaders stated, after mentioning that he had no college education to speak of, that although language DOES evolve, it shouldn’t. This is akin to saying that just because insects adapt to their environment does not mean they should. WHO WOULD SAY THAT?! I quickly pointed out in his thread that his very phrase “dumbing down” is an example of language evolution. “Dumb” was introduced probably around the 12th century, and it was a NOUN, not a verb. Further, it only referred to mutism, a very serious affliction. It was not until perhaps the 16th century that it became a verb (because that’s what words do over time: they change parts of speech when it becomes necessary) but still referred to mutism, perhaps temporally: “Her lover’s death dumbed her for weeks.” Not until much later did it actually refer to stupidity!

Pseudo-intellects and the well-meaning English and Lit majors enjoy following the trend of “preserving” our language, which requires creating arbitrary rules for how language “ought” to be (instead of what language is and can be). When my friends get up on their high-horse (not sure where this saying ever came from) about how the English language will fall to the dogs if WE ALL don’t try to save it, which requires us correcting every other person’s ‘whether-to’s and ‘why-for’s, their who’s and whom’s, they always assume that I should agree with them. As a linguist, I ought to be able to judge correct speech, and edit those who don’t use it. I always like to ask them “do you ever end a sentence with a preposition?” 9 times out of 10 they will reply “I try not to” … HA! You have fallen into my trap… “You mean, ‘I try to not!’” They usually laugh but never know what to make of it. The second sentence is prescriptively correct, but it does not sound grammatical! Winston Churchill commented on this very topic, since it was around his time when this became the fad for pompous grammarians to make arbitrary rules such as this. Churchill remarked: “THIS IS THE SORT OF ENGLISH UP WITH WHICH I WILL NOT PUT!” ‘nough said.