Greek fuel: Frappé unpacked
Vivian Constantinopoulos and Daniel Young explore
the charms and aficionados of instant iced coffee
by ELIS KISS
You thought it was ouzo, but Greece’s national drink as it turns out
is not the world-known anise-flavored aperitif, but a combination of instant
coffee, sugar (optional), water and ice.
Frappé coffee, argue Vivian Constantinopoulos and Daniel Young in ”Frappé
Nation” (“Ora gia frappé,” Potamos Editions), “is nothing less than a
modern Greek elixir.”
An enjoyable Greek/English read, the book narrates how the coffee drink
quenches the country’s thirst for communication and interaction, while
its authors imagine how Pericles would appreciate it in developing stimulating
conversation - minus the cell phone.
Frappé becomes today’s democratic beverage: It goes beyond age and social
status to be enjoyed by all, whether lounging on a designer chair or the
all-time classic kafeneio seat. You can buy it pre-fabricated at the local
periptero or you can have it served in a sexy glass.
”Frappé isn’t only coffee, it’s fuel. People are running themselves on
it,” says food specialist Diane Kochilas in the book.
Some fuel. A survey conducted by the local Flocafe cafeteria chain concluded
that the average time for coffee consumption in this country is 93 minutes.
Born in London to Greek parents from the Peloponnese, Constantinopoulos
is the commissioning editor at Reaktion Books, the London-based publishers
specializing in arts and cultural history. Previously she was an editor
at Phaidon Press.
A food journalist, critic and author, Young spends most of his time commuting
between London, Paris and his native New York. Author of “The Bistros,
Brasseries and Wine Bars of Paris,” “The Paris Cafe Cookbook” and “The
Rough Guide to New York City Restaurants,” he contributes to The New York
Times, The Los Angeles Times, Gourmet Magazine and Bon Appetit Magazine,
For their frothy coffee endeavor, the authors talked to hundreds of frappé
fans, ranging from cafe owners to journalists and artists and consulted
a number of experts in the fields of Classical Greek, Modern Greek studies,
mass media, sociology and food scientists.
What did they come up with? Among other things, that frappé made its first
appearance in public at the Thessaloniki International Fair, when a Nestle
sales representative picked up a shaker and replaced cocoa with coffee
during a product demonstration. That one frappé equals four espressos
- when prepared with two level tablespoons.
In this lively edition, the authors examine the various facets of coffee
consumption, discussing the history of Greek cafe culture beginning in
the 19th century, the history of coffee in this country, the development
of the instant version, how coffee travels, how it becomes a symbol of
home away from home for the diaspora and how a no-fuss frappé survives
against the Freddocinos of this world. There are portraits of landmark
coffeehouses around Greece and dreamy spots for the perfect frappé: from
the conviviality of Kafandaris, established in 1922 in Thessaloniki, to
the romance of Veranda, situated in Myconos’s Little Venice.
More than a book on coffee and its lovers, ”Frappé Nation” captures the
modern Greek lifestyle spirit.