Remember how, after I came back from Naples, I was raving about every single thing I had seen in that city? It had left me completely enchanted, and as I was utterly inebriated on its magic, in my delirium I had made a thinking error. I recently realised that not everything I’ve only ever seen in Naples, is Neapolitan.
Last week, a lovely friend of mine pointed out to me (as gently as he could, but no less painful) that this mysterious cream they put in my coffee one day and about which I was so excited, was not actually a southern rarity. It’s called a cremina (literally meaning little cream) and it’s well known throughout Italy. You could even make it yourself, he told me, it’s not that difficult. All you need is some sugar, a teaspoon full of coffee and a coffee cup. “What do you mean, you can make it yourself? In such a small quantity? That can’t possibly be right, they had a massive bowl full of it!” I said, somewhat angrily, still deep down in denial. Trying to soften the blow, he quietly sighed: ”Yeaaahhhh… they were probably using a ready-made type, then. You know, from powder…”
Well, another day, another dream shattered, but fortunately this one dream has made place for a brand new excitement: making cremina myself! It is a delightful little task and the result is fantastic. It’s delicious, and on top of your coffee high, you now also get a sugar induced, magical cremina high. I even had a dream about this wonderful cremina recently, it’s that wonderful. I fell asleep on a train and I dreamed about a massive coffee cup, the size of a swimming pool, full of coffee and cremina. I dove in from the side of the cup while I yelled “Cremina per tutti!”. And that’s how it should always be. There should always be cremina per tutti.
You’ll need one of these magical apparatuses to make espresso, because you can’t put fantastic cremina in depressing, woeful British coffee. If you don’t own one, go out and buy yourself one, you won’t regret it.
Then you’ll need a tiny wee espresso cup, some sugar and a teaspoon.
Prepare the caffettiera as usual, put it on the fire, but leave the lid open so you can keep a close eye on the coffee. You need the very first coffee that comes out, or it won’t work.
Take a coffee cup and put in three teaspoons of sugar. Once the coffee in the caffettiera starts flowing, immediately take it off the fire and add one teaspoon of the thick, black coffee to the sugar. Put the caffettiera back on the fire and immediately start stirring the sugar and coffee like and absolute madman/woman. If you’ve done it right, the cream should come out beige, mocca coloured and a bit runny.
Actually it’ll look almost exactly like that creamy layer that machines also make on coffee these days (like that godawful Senseo, for the Dutch), the one major difference being that that machinemade, watery and horrible cream, rather makes you believe that the betrayers of relatives in Dante’s 9th circle really were better off than you, while this cremina is so delicious it will leave you delirious and under the impression that you’ve made it to coffee nirvana.