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Italy woos UNESCO with 'magical' espresso coffee rite

February 15, 2022 / 11:02 AM
Sharjah24 – AFP: A shot of dark, velvety coffee is more than just a quick caffeine hit: Italy's espresso is a prized social and cultural ritual the country considers a national heritage worthy of UNESCO status.
Italians knock back some 30 million espressos a day, from Venice to Sicily, in porcelain cups or little glasses, with or without a splash of milk -- and see each one as a gesture of friendship.

The gleaming machine behind the marble counter clanks and hisses as the barista tamps the ground coffee into the portafilter, clicks it into place and flicks a switch to shoot near-boiling water through it.

To be the real deal, the espresso has to have a "round, substantial and velvety" taste and "hazel-brown to dark-brown foam, characterised by tawny reflexes", according to the Italian Espresso Institute.

It must have a long-lasting aroma which has "notes of flowers, fruits, toasted bread and chocolate", says the institute, set up in 1998 to safeguard espresso.

The bid for heritage status has been sent by the agricultural ministry to Italy's national UNESCO commission, which must submit it to the UN body's headquarters in Paris by March 31.

Italy already boasts a series of living traditions and customs on the list, from truffle hunting to the art of the Neapolitan pizza maker, the Mediterranean diet and traditional violin craftsmanship in Cremona, the birthplace of Antonio Stradivari.

Some like cream puffs, little pizzas or fried dough balls with their espressos, chatting between bites.

They would become ubiquitous across Italy, with each of the country's 20 regions making espressos slightly differently -- shorter, longer, more or less intense, possibly with sparkling water on the side.
February 15, 2022 / 11:02 AM

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