Frappé – The Modern Greek Elixir
Some look at a glass of frappé and see only a mixture of instant coffee, sugar, water, and ice. Authors Vivian Constantinopoulos and Daniel Young take a close look at the same glass and see a symbol of idyllic summers in Greece.“The frappé,” they write, “is not merely a morning pick-me-up, an afternoon break, or a wet, cold answer to the dry, hot summer. The distinctive iced coffee lifts moods, stimulates conversation, announces your connection to a lifestyle unique to Greece, and connects you to it when you’re away. Frappé is nothing less than a modern Greek elixir.
In Frappé Nation: Ora Gia Kafe (Time for Coffee), released this summer by Potamos Books in a single Greek-English edition, Constantinopoulos and Young investigate the bond between modern Greeks and their national drink. This special relationship, they argue, is rooted in an ancestral thirst for public dialogue and interaction. The chapter titled "The Ancient Art of Greek Conversation” details practices from the ancient agora that take place today in cafés. The authors imagine Pericles being transported from 4th century BC to 21st century AD Athens and, though lacking a cellphone, football knowledge, and other fundamental tools of the cafeteria habitué, adapting surprisingly well to latest customs:
“Pericles would notice odd yet reassuring similarities: The discussions. The commentaries. The verbal sparring. With a briefing on current affairs and periodic sips of a long-lasting frappé to stir the dazed time traveler, he would likely reclaim his commanding role in the Athenian conversation.”
More Greek than Greek Coffee
Subsequent chapters provide intimate views of Greek coffeehouse culture, from the first literary cafés of the 19th century; to the kafeneia, pastry shops, and cafeterias of the 20th century; to the stylish lounge cafés of the 21st century. Frappé Nation also details the history of traditional coffee, instant coffee, the NESCAFE® brand, and the invention and advertising of the caffeinated beverage that is perhaps more Greek than Greek coffee:
“The traditional brew commonly described as ‘Greek’ originated in the Middle East, is consumed throughout the Near and Middle East, and is widely known as ‘Turkish,’ as it was in Greece until the 1970s. But frappé, as recognized and adored in Greece, is a Greek-born and primarily Greek phenomenon inseparable from the country’s climate, character, and way of life.
Frappé Nation is an illustrated travelogue of the Hellenic café landscape, crisscrossing the cities and islands of Greece, from Corfu to Rhodes, Thessaloniki to Chania. Interspersed throughout the text are boxes profiling distinctive coffee houses, with snapshots and anecdotes of the characters who make these places so special. Some will look at Frappé Nation and see only a book. But anyone who’s been a frappé drinker and therefore part of the Greek café experience will instantly recognize an ideal gift for themselves and, better still, for the friends who always make time for coffee.
in Greek & English. HardCover. 190 pages.