Sometimes, you only want a little something—a touch, a taste, a small simple pleasure. Italian cuisine is a treasure-house of little somethings—“un pocco morso.”
From a sliver of melon wrapped in a slender ribbon of prosciutto to flavor-filled Affogato, a very mature homage to dessert, small Italian dishes exemplify luxury in their classic balance of restraint and indulgence.
An end-of-the-meal Affogato (literally “drowned”) contains only two spectacular ingredients: fresh, Hot Espresso and Vanilla Gelato. Place one or two small scoops of gelato in a heat-proof glass or china cup and add steaming espresso. Your work is done, and your enjoyment begins at once. Rich flavors satisfy cravings without overwhelming the senses, and a little something becomes a big pleasure.
One of the most important goals of Italian cuisine is to combine simple, intense, fresh flavors to create food that is both pleasurable and relaxing to eat. In our ingredient-bombarded world, the thought of something so simple sets off unnecessary fireworks in your head: Not vanilla—you could do salted caramel and nuts and shreds of coconut and a very expensive, exclusive chocolate. . . . Not espresso—something infused, or spiced or double-brewed. . . . Stop right there.
Put all the busy, fussy ideas back in your mental kitchen cupboard and quietly close the door. Feel your pulse beginning to slow. Set the espresso to brew, and find a pretty cup, a lacy napkin and maybe your slippers or sandals. Feel the creases leave your forehead. It’s almost impossible to scoop gelato while fighting the urge to smile. Lose the battle. Add espresso. Watch as Coffee and Gelato combine—it’s like lying in a meadow, staring up at the clouds. Take a deep breath. Take a small taste. You’re there!
Having company? Affogato is a perfect “pocco morso” to share. Most often served after dinner, affogato also makes a delightful ending to a simple lunch. Offer affogato with a cozy afternoon chat or even as part of a lazy brunch. Make minis in your espresso cups or larger servings in heat-proof glass cups so guests can watch ingredients combine. Offer spoons. Accept compliments.