Only in Italy: Coffee, suspended

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Sospeso in Bologna.JPG

BOLOGNA--It started in Italy, not surprisingly, where people are by nature kind and generous, having lived together in close quarters through good times and bad. In the country's small towns and crowded neighborhoods, no one's a stranger; everybody's related, and you take care of your own.

In 2010, a group of regional festivals revived the tradition of the caffè sospeso, a "suspended coffee" paid for but not yet consumed, and the following year municipal authorities in Naples proclaimed an official Giornata del Sospeso to coincide with Human Rights Day on December 10th. Here in Bologna, far to the north, we find a receptacle for cash receipts (indicating that the coffee has been paid for) on the counter at a neighborhood bar frequented by international students.

"The caffè sospeso has been identified as a symbol of grassroots social solidarity," its advocates say. A report on NPR claimed there are 500 coffee shops across the US that offer some sort of mechanism for a coffee-buyer to pay it forward. So far, Starbucks is not among them. For shame.

Only in Italy: Campari Soda

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Pouring Campari Soda.JPG

BOLOGNA--Less boozy than a glass of wine, and prepackaged in a unique 10-cl bottle, Campari Soda (with its own nomenclature, "camparisoda") makes a lovely, delicious, and inexpensive aperitivo. Three euros ($3.25) at most bars.

On an earlier trip to Bologna, at the end of 2005, I went in search of full-strength Campari. But the drink itself has changed. They literally took the bugs out in 2006, and the reformulated Campari now tastes (to me, to me) more syrupy and less bitter.

Miss me? Didja?

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Reflection RH in Bologna.JPG

Don't cry for me, the truth is, I never left you. Didn't jump off a building or pull a trigger, just forgot to pay the web hosting bill. (Again.) All good now. Made it safely to Bologna, so plenty of good food stories to come.


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