My sister and I are diametric opposites when it comes to handling jet lag. Try as she might, she just can’t keep her eyes open – she’s like the Sleeping Beauty of the skies and doses off seemingly every other hour for the first few days of her trip.
I take a totally different approach it’s like a time zone boot camp wherein I strong arm myself into getting into gear. It all begins on the plane when I take No Jet Lag pills, force myself to sleep on the hours of the time zone where I’m headed, and do not, under any circumstance, sleep until night falls. If you’ve ever had to fight jet lag, you can understand how seriously a difficult thing this can be. Well, when it hits in Italy, I turn to the Caffe Shakerato.
There are a few things you should know about the shakerato: first, it’s pronounced by saying the English word “shake” and simply adding a “-rato” at the end. You know, one of those perfect bastardizations of an English word that makes for an awesome word in a foreign language. Second, it’s not really clear where it originated but I suspect it is a cousin of the Greek Nescafe Frappe because they’re two sides of the same coin. Third, it’s a drink that sort of shows up out of nowhere once the weather gets warm. You’ll be in a caffe and all of a sudden cold coffee starts showing up in Martini (sometimes wine or champagne) glasses as if they hibernate at anything less than 80°.
I’m not sure how I first heard about it but I know exactly when I tried the shakerato. It was during the dog days of Italian summer, Florence was in the triple digits (fahrenheit, that is), and the only way I could walk outside is if I made like a vampire and jumped from shadow to shadow. Having grown up in dry heat, I’m a wimp when it comes to humidity and become a sniveling ball of pathetic-ness if the humidity is anywhere near New Orleans levels.
Well, deep in August, Florence gets this was swamp-like heat that I simply wilt in. I took refuge in the chi-chi hotel bar of the famous Hotel Savoy and, before I could order, the waiter asked me if I wanted a caffe shakerato. Truth be told, I said yes because the name sounded cool though I had no idea what it actually was.
What arrived was indeed cool and it was served straight up in a Martini glass. It was an espresso shot shaken with sugar and ice and served strained, which resulted in this sweet, thick espresso foam that I couldn’t get enough of. The genius of the shakerato is that it’s so simple but well executed, like so many other good Italian recipes. My only complaint is that it’s usually served super sugary so I always ask for it with minimal or no sugar.
I only just arrived in Rome so it’s still TBD to see how badly I suffer jet lag this go ’round. But then, I’m kinda, sorta hoping I do, if only for an excuse for an extra caffe shakerato or two.