Portia Placino

Repository of my thoughts and images of art, literature, travel, and life.

Day 8, Observing a café and death to adverbs (not quite)

She stepped inside, uncertain. That café has caught her eye in the past week, but it was too rushed, too quick. Now, she’s alone, with no appointments to fulfil.

There were people ordering their morning coffee, and she stood for a moment, observing. The price was listed, and though most of the menu is in German, she understood familiar words—espresso, kaffe latte, cappuccino…

There were pastries as well, most of which, unpronounceable. But by the look and smell of it, delectable. It was too good to pass up.

She approached the bar and the nice lady greeted her in German. She smiled and said “hello.” It signalled that she doesn’t speak the local language. As the coffee lady doesn’t speak much English, she tried to communicate “What do you want?”

“Kaffe Latte.”

“Kaffe Latte?”

“Yes,” and then pointed to a particular pastry that she wanted to try.

The coffee lady gestured for one and then nodded.

The next hurdle was for here or to take away. The coffee lady pointed to a chair then to a door, asking the question. She responded by pointing to a chair. They smiled at each other, exhausted.

Numbers are next. Hand signals once again sufficed.

Finally, sitting down, she fully took the café/bakery in. The drinks menu are handwritten in chalk behind the counter, popular Italian drinks were understandable, the rest were not. She can only wonder.

She then observed the different breads and pastries, some she’ll get to try in the days to come. This will be her breakfast place. The coffee lady will grow accustomed to her.

The smell was wonderful. The entire place, tiny as it was, was infused with the smell of fresh coffee and buttery pastries. The coffee was strong and nice, the pastry flakey and soft. It was a good beginning.

People came and went, signalled by the jingling of the bell by the door. The café was right by the U-Bahn. She assumed that they were about to start their day, just like her.

Roughly a month after, spring will begin and they will have one table outside. But for that moment, its cold and snowy. She brought her dishes back to the bar, as she heard was the polite thing to do, smiled and said “Thank you.”

The bell jingled as she stepped out into the snow.

====================

She walked inside a bar, confident. It was a sea of black coats, crowding the bar. It was a minuscule place. The temperature is picking up but the wind is still cold.

She squeezed her way to the bar, near the barista, determined to be heard.

The smell was intoxicating. Bitter black coffee was wafting through the air. Fresh hot pastries were making their way from the kitchen into the counter, right in front of her.

“Cappucino,” she said.

There was no menu, no way to know the price. But with all the locals, speaking and ordering in Italian, swarming the bar, quickly drinking their coffee and eating their pastry, she assumed its a local hub and wouldn’t be expensive.

He told her the price she needed to pay, and she asked “How much?” in English. He smiled and realised she was not from around there.

Standing up in the bar, drinking her breakfast cappuccino, she couldn’t stop herself from pointing at the cannoli.

“Crema o cioccolato?”

She thought for a second and said “Crema.”

It was heaven. The warm, light, sweet cream oozes out of the light and crispy pastry sprinkled with powdered sugar. She ate it in seconds, gratified.

She pointed at the cannoli again, saying “Cioccolato?”

The barista laughed and gave her a chocolate cannoli. Again, heaven. The rich chocolate oozes out as well, out of the same flaky pastry. She gauged which is better of the two.

The hot, fresh pastry smell continued to waft through the air, combined with the strong, fresh ground coffee. Invigorating.

She knew she should go. She should step out and catch vaporetto to start the day’s adventure.

Yet, she stayed, and pointed at the cannoli again, saying “Crema.”

The barista simply gave a hearty laugh and she laughed with him. “Prego,” he said.

She bit one last time into paradise, thinking she may never have the like of it again. This is how breakfasts should be. Always.

She caught the bartender’s eye and greeted him, “Grazie.”

He once again laughed and said, “Prego.”

She stepped out of the tiny bar, into the cobbled streets, to catch a vaporetto. She’s still smiling.

====================

The prompt said we should go out to a café and observe, but I don’t have the time to do that today. Instead, I wrote from my memory. I tried remembering my café adventures, in the perspective of another person observing me. I hope it worked. I also don’t know if I’ve completely eliminated the adverbs here.

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6 comments on “Day 8, Observing a café and death to adverbs (not quite)

  1. the_everending
    April 15, 2015

    (Found on the writing commons). You’ve created a really beautiful scene here. I don’t even like pastries that much, and I can smell the shops you have described. Great use of interspersed dialogue too.

    • Portia Placino
      April 15, 2015

      Thank you. Those scenes are still alive in my mind, even the smells and tastes. Whenever I travel, I make sure I visit cafés. Reading today’s prompt, I just had to write these stories, even if its not exactly what they’re asking us to do. 🙂

  2. Christoph_Orr
    April 15, 2015

    It was a transportive read. You really nailed the ‘show don’t tell’ aspect of the description of the cafe.

    • Portia Placino
      April 15, 2015

      Thanks Christoph. At least I nailed something, yay! 🙂 The prompts are very motivating but sometimes, I can’t help but do my own thing. 🙂

  3. angharadeyre
    April 15, 2015

    Wonderful! So evocative and I loved the humor in the Italian scene.

    • Portia Placino
      April 15, 2015

      Thank you. It was really funny. I couldn’t stop eating those cannolis! And they were really laughing at me, in a good way. 🙂

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This entry was posted on April 15, 2015 by in Portia's Narratives, Travel Writing and tagged , , , , , , , .

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