Category Archives: Food and eating

Coffee in Italy

By Laura Hough

Clockwise from top left: a cafe maurochino, a cafe shakirato, a latte, and my empty cup after I couldn't stop drinking the cafe maurochino!

Clockwise from top left: a cafe maurochino, a cafe shakirato, a latte, and my empty cup after I couldn’t stop drinking the cafe maurochino!

I know I already mentioned coffee in one of my posts, but a paragraph doesn’t do Italian coffee justice. Italians love coffee. It completely permeates the culture and they drink it all the time. That being said, there are an awful lot of rules about coffee drinking in Italy. In the U.S., especially on college campuses, you order what you want, when you want it, and then you drink it. One Wednesday night I learned all about drinking coffee in Italy from one of Umbra’s food science professors, and a lot of fun facts about coffee too.

Coffee was originally discovered by a goat herder in Ethiopia, who noticed one day that his goats were really hyper after eating some seeds. Somehow, that led to discovering that grinding said seeds and then soaking them in hot water made a delicious drink that would also make humans hyper. Coffee was first commercially grown in Yemen, on the Arabian Peninsula. The Islamic world started drinking it, probably because they don’t drink alcohol, as per the rules of their religion.

Coffee managed to get to Venice, which was a bustling port in the Middle Ages. It was originally sold in pharmacies as a cure-all: If you couldn’t sleep, drink some coffee. If you couldn’t stay awake, drink some coffee. If you had stomach pains, drink some coffee. It got so popular that even a pope weighed in, and said it was OK for Christians to drink coffee.

Fast forward to modern Italy. Coffee, and I mean great coffee, is on every street corner, available in every bar and café. They call it some different names, though, so if you’re ordering coffee in Italy, keep these tips in mind:

Un café” will get you a shot of espresso. I am not a fan — it’s strong and dark and bitter, and makes me want to gag. It’s also only about a shot’s worth of coffee.

Un café Americano” will get you a watered down espresso. It’s as close to a regular cup of coffee as it gets, and then you can add sugar.

Don’t make the mistake of ordering “un latte,” because you will get a funny look, and then receive a warm cup of milk. That’s what latte is in Italian — milk.

Instead, you either want a “un latte machiato” or “un café macchiato.” “Macchia” is Italian for stain, so when you order “un latte machiato,” you get milk with a stain of coffee, while “un café macchiato” is coffee with a stain of milk.

You can also order a cappuccino in Italy, but only do so in the mornings for breakfast. The Italians believe that the milk will fill you up, so you don’t want to drink it after noon, otherwise you won’t be hungry. Fun fact about a cappuccino: It’s named after the capuchin monkey, the black and white creature from South America. Those were named after an order of monks, known as Capuchin. These monks wore a black and white hood, and a cappuccino, with espresso, then milk, and then the foam on top sort of resembles a capuchin monkey.

Another excellent coffee drink is “un café shakirato.” It’s a shot of espresso, lightly sweetened and shaken with ice until it’s all foamy on top. It’s delicious. Unfortunately, if you order one in the wintertime, you will receive odd looks, because the Italians believe if you drink something chilly in the winter, you will die. I’m thinking about doing it anyway, because it’s delicious.

The last drink I have for you is called “un café maurochino.” It’s a coffee in a glass rimmed in cocoa powder. It’s also quite delicious, and perfectly acceptable to drink in the winter because it’s hot. Mine was the perfect balance of coffee and chocolate flavor.

But, even with all the variations, my Italian friends told me, “If you don’t like espresso, you don’t like coffee.” I’m definitely still working on drinking espresso like a real Italian (no sugar, no cream), but I’m really enjoying it all. And hopefully, when you get to Italy, you will manage to order exactly what you want!

Day 1: Guten tag!

By Brittney Durbin

Hello friends!

This past week was super crazy with finals/traveling, but now that I am just about done with all my school obligations, I can finally share my Germany experiences!

My friends and I departed Alicante in the wee hours of the morning last Saturday, Dec. 8. This was an adventure in and of itself because I took RyanAir for the first time. Now if anyone is unfamiliar with this company, it is famous for having amazingly cheap flights. In fact, I paid less than $100 dollars round trip, but yet again it was one of those “you get what you pay for” type things. The seats were super uncomfortable, they have very strict guidelines on the bags you can bring, and they PACK these planes full. Although it was not as horrible as I had expected, it definitely wasn’t like riding U.S. Airways or another big airline company.

City Center!

City center!

Once we arrived, we had to take an hour and a half bus ride to Munich, which was nice because it meant I got to sleep more (yay!). After walking a bit we finally made it into the city center, where we were greeted with Christmas Markets and this lovely building! It was simply amazing, and I now understand why everyone tries to go to Germany around this time of year.

After shopping a bit, my friends and I made our way to our hotel, which was a little bit outside the city. Public transportation was easy to maneuver, especially since it was very similar to the London Tube type of system. Plus, everyone was very helpful and the people at the information desks even spoke English!

While on the topic of language, this was the first time in my life that I visited a country in which I had no clue what anyone was saying to me. In Spain, although my Spanish is far from perfect, I understand enough to get around or to be able to ask someone for directions, and in London everyone spoke English (obviously). However, this was not the case in Germany. It was really interesting and delightful to hear something unfamiliar, and, despite being unable to understand the people, we managed to have a fabulous time.

Anyway, back to the more exciting things.

IMG_0982That night my friends and I ventured over to the Hofbräuhaus, which is a famous attraction in Munich. Between its traditional manner of eating, as well it’s mouth-watering German food, this place exceeded my expectations! It was really neat to scout out a table, and then just join other people for dinner. The family next to us was celebrating the son’s birthday, so they were delightful company.

IMG_0980After finishing dinner, we made our way back to the Christmas Markets/city center to see what it was like at night. Boy, was it beautiful! This tree was so tall! It took my breath away (or that could have been the cold…). Nevertheless, my friends and I roamed the center looking at all the crafty things, and well as enjoying even more food! I myself loved the crepes, which had Nutella and banana in them. Also, the bratwurst was spectacular! I discovered that I am a huge fan of German food, as well as just the general atmosphere of the restaurants.

Unfortunately, my camera batteries died early on in the trip, so just about all of the photos are from my iPhone. Honestly, I probably would have taken the same number of pictures even if it had been working, because it was so cold that my fingers would freeze after snapping just a couple!

Tomorrow I will write about day two, but I must warn you that the post will not be as fun or lighthearted as this one. You see, my friends and I decided to visit a concentration camp, and I think that it was one of the most horrific and eye-opening experiences of  my entire life.

Anyway, I’ll elaborate more on that tomorrow, but I just wanted to give a heads up.

Until next time!

Princess Jantsen has arrived

By Jantsen McBride

Hello darlings!

Last night was the winter ball for Furness. At Lancaster, each college has a big, fancy get together where food is served, dancing is done and a good time is had by all. The winter ball was like an upgraded version of prom in high school. Marley showed up at my flat with a wonderful bouquet of flowers and looking quite smart in his skinny tie and grey suit. After a few pictures were taken by the designated “prom mom”— Lindsay — Marlz Barkley and I headed down to the bus underpass to catch the coach, erm I mean carriage, to the ball. Unfortunately, our coach was almost forty minutes late. That meant waiting in the frigid weather with a light tuxedo jacket and open-toed heels. I was literally thinking about what I would do if I had to get my toes amputated because of frostbites. Finally, the coach came and the herd of people waiting rushed aboard.

One hour later and we were arriving at the Netherwood Hotel, which is beautifully located in Grange-Over-Sands near Cumbria. To say this hotel was amazing would be underselling it. It was spectacular and hands down the most magical looking place I have ever been. Standing atop a hill with a perfectly manicured lawn, the hotel looked more like a castle than a place for people to stay. The inside of the Netherwood was set up in full fashion for the Christmas season. White lighted branches lit the hallway making an arch above our heads, while a gigantic evergreen with at least fifty presents of all sizes made the mansion feel quite homey. Dinner was held in a ballroom the size of the Mizzou basketball arena and each table was set exquisitely for 10 people. Dinner consisted of a three-course meal that each guest had chosen beforehand. I had a delicious carrot and butternut squash soup, the contrebeef filet and Christmas pudding. Mini mince pies and coffee were served afterwards. Each of us also received a Christmas cracker. I had never seen one before so Marley showed me how to pull it apart to make a popping sound. Inside the presents were little gifts such as a crown, pencil sharpener, joke book, etc.

One of the many living rooms in the hotel

One of the many living rooms in the hotel

Some of the Christmas cheer

Some of the Christmas cheer

How nice and homey!

How nice and homey!

Loved the branches!

Loved the branches!

Another fireplace!

Another fireplace!

The Netherwood Hotel

The Netherwood Hotel

the courtyard of the hotel

The courtyard of the hotel

Absolutely stunning at night.

Absolutely stunning at night


paradiseFullFaculty of the college were also present and interestingly bought each table an extra bottle of wine. This was quite a cultural shock to me, as professors back home would never drink with students, or condone drinking at all for that matter. After dinner, we all went to get jiggy on the dance floor. Marley and I, being the dance divas that we are, were some of the first ones to break out our moves. Full-length gowns and fancy suits in all sorts of charming colors could be seen as they swirled around the dance floor in a blur of sequins and shine. About halfway through I got a migraine and had to sit down; however, the majority of the night was a great success. I accidentally left my camera’s memory card at home so apologies for the lack of pictures!

Merry Christmas,


Warner Brothers Studio tour: The making of Harry Potter

By Brittney Durbin

Please excuse the delay, I got busy with Thanksgiving and I’ve been occupied writing papers this weekend. (Yes, I actually do the STUDY part in study abroad.)

But now its time for Harry Potter pictures!

I took almost 200 pictures in the four hours I was there, but similar to the other posts, these are some of my favorites.

I should warn you, though, that Dobby was left as he was the last time he was shown in film. When I sent my sister a picture of it (because, for the record, she did request a picture of the little guy) her response was not thank you, but instead, “You can’t go around sending pictures of dead Dobby, BRITTNEY!”

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these pictures half as much as I enjoyed taking them!

Harry’s cupboard under the stairs

Zach and I in front of the Great Hall doors

Front of the Great Hall

Harry’s bed

Common room

Props from the fourth movie

Snape and the potions classroom

Sorting Hat

Door of the Chamber of Secrets


Butterbeer! (NOTE: There is no alcohol in this beverage)

Chess pieces from the first movie

The Knight Bus!

Harry, open the door! I have butterbeer!

R.I.P. Dobby

Diagon Alley!

Hogwarts! (model)

J.K. Rowling quote

Like I said, four hours (and also four butterbeers) later, Zach and I left the studio around 6 p.m. or so. I loved it and thought it was worth every penny… I mean, pound.

A few days later my godmother went on the tour, and although not the biggest fan of HP, she shared how much she enjoyed it as well. So, if ever given the opportunity, whether you have read every page of every book and seen every second of every movie or if you simply are going along for the ride, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Well this marks the last of my London posts! (phew!) It only took three, but in a city so big it is easy to have many adventures.

I can’t believe I’ll be returning to the states in a little under a month! I know right now I’m super excited to go back home, but I feel like once I’m there I’ll miss studying abroad (well, parts of it anyway).

This week and the next is dedicated to paper writing and presentation prepping (yuck). However, Dec. 8 three friends and I are making our way up to Germany! And more importantly, to the CHRISTMAS MARKETS!

Until next time!