petite anglaise

June 14, 2006

latin lover

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:59 am

Meet Segafredo.

Fredo, as I like to call him, was gifted to me by a kind reader who spotted that Mr Frog, while he graciously left me most of the furniture, did however make away with our coffee machine.

For my first date with Fredo, I consented to an expedition to the Rive Gauche to meet him in a café. Something of a rarity for me, as I am a definitely a Right Bank girl at heart. But I did not regret it. For me at least, it was love at first sight. There was something about his particular brand of Latin retro chic which I found irresistible. From the moment I laid eyes on him, I was simply itching to get my hands on his frothing attachment.

I knew, all along, that this would only be a fling, as Fredo was officially on long term loan only, as kind reader’s husband was a little dubious about the idea of his good lady wife giving a wedding present away to a stranger, even if a spangly new nespresso machine had recently stolen Fredo’s place in his affections.

My new Italian friend was heavy, weighing in at a good seven kilos, but I battled valliantly home on the métro, cradling him in my arms, reasoning that, in fact, he only weighed the equivalent of half a Tadpole. And I was confident that Fredo would prove to be rather less fickle than my daughter.

How wrong I was.

Don’t get me wrong, Fredo and I have shared some rare moments of complicity these past few weeks. In times of stress, he was there for me, without fail. Frothing milk, I have discovered, has a profoundly calming effect on my nerves, so we have made cappuccino after cappuccino together. His espresso looks and tastes simply perfect, a dark bitter body topped with a delicate creamy head. Fredo and petite: a match made in heaven.

Until one morning, without any warning, he lost his temper with me and grew violent. I watched with alarm as grainy water gushed over the top of the filter and sullied the cappuccino I was preparing. Gasped and brusquely flipped his switch to “off” as I saw his arm begin to swing sideways under the influence of some evil impulse. Took a step back and watched in disbelief as the filter arm detached itself altogether, seemingly in slow motion, splattering me, and my entire kitchen, with boiling coffee grounds.

Today this occurred for the second time in as many weeks.

I eye Fredo, reproachfully, while applying burn spray to my left arm.

“I’m warning you,” I say, in my most menacing voice. “Three strikes and you are out. I’ll save up my paypal donations and buy myself a new friend. Throw you out on your ear. You may be fiendishly handsome, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you are irreplaceable.”

I realise that I probably should have paid more heed to my mother’s warnings about Latin males.


  1. That sounds typically Italian! Nice to look at, and when it works it’s great, but when it goes wrong, it goes horribly wrong.
    Just like Italian cars…

    Comment by Hywel Mallett — June 14, 2006 @ 11:22 am

  2. Sometimes even coffee makers resent the demands we place on them.

    Let us know if and when strike three occurs. And if you suddenly stop blogging, I suppose we can assume the worst.

    Comment by BlondebutBright — June 14, 2006 @ 11:56 am

  3. The scalding doesn’t sound very nice. I don’t think I’d wait for the three strikes at that point! Especially when it involves wiping coffee grounds from assorted kitchen surfaces. Not a great start to the day.

    By the way, it’s not typically Italian, Hywell Mallett – it really only applies to their cars. I’m always amazed at how well they can design everything from kitchen stuff to helicopters but can’t do cars. (Not that I’m biased or anything.)

    Comment by Hazy — June 14, 2006 @ 12:11 pm

  4. I have a hunch Hywel is talking about Italian cars…

    Comment by petite — June 14, 2006 @ 12:17 pm

  5. The Italian design sounds great (like pink Vespas!), however those Latin lovers give out compliments way too easily, and when you want them to be cooperative they turn macho on you! Bon courage…

    Comment by Lost in France — June 14, 2006 @ 1:01 pm

  6. Oh dear, just what I didn’t need to hear – my husband has just bought a Gaggia machine and is addicted.

    Comment by katie — June 14, 2006 @ 1:37 pm

  7. Latin males need a lot of care and affection. I assume that Fredo would use a little overhaul…

    Comment by Thomas — June 14, 2006 @ 1:55 pm

  8. How treacherous indeed. You were wise to be careful…

    Comment by fjl — June 14, 2006 @ 2:59 pm

  9. Oh my lord. I hope you and Signor Fredo can make amends, because that thing is so beautiful it looks like it came straight out of an Almodovar film…even though he’s not quite Italian.

    Comment by Sarah — June 14, 2006 @ 3:02 pm

  10. According to the proprietor of our favourite coffee place only the best professional models are any good. Certainly this was borne out when I splashed out on an expensive espresso/cappuccino machine for my husband’s birthday. The ‘froth maker’ was great when it worked but terribly temperamental at times while the espresso department gave up the ghost as soon as the guarantee expired. (Sorry Katie – it was a Gaggia – but this was a long time ago.)
    A friend from Lyon,who worked for Gaggia in Italy took it back for repair. But, guess what, they couldn’t do anything with it!

    Comment by Sablonneuse — June 14, 2006 @ 3:17 pm

  11. Perhaps Fredo was just misbehaving so that he could go home to his mummy. Even though he lives in Paris he might still be a “mamone”?

    Comment by Hazy — June 14, 2006 @ 3:17 pm

  12. …….yes, but will he respect you in the morning? ;-)

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — June 14, 2006 @ 3:24 pm

  13. As a latin male, I resent your mother’s implications about the proclivities of my olive-skinned brethren. Perhaps he was just being passionate? That’s very latin, you know.

    Comment by homeimprovementninja — June 14, 2006 @ 3:37 pm

  14. Agree with Thomas. The poor guy just wants a bit of recognition a.k.a. maintenance. His way of signalling this is a little crude. You know how difficult it is for males to express their frustrations in a gentle way…

    Comment by ontario frog — June 14, 2006 @ 3:45 pm

  15. I’ve had similar espresso-related disasters. It’s all down to excess pressure.

    Mind you, what isn’t these days, eh?

    I suggest sticking to tea until matters resolve themselves.

    Comment by Cultural Snow — June 14, 2006 @ 3:49 pm

  16. Thanks for making me smile with this post ! Lovely.

    Comment by Jany — June 14, 2006 @ 4:30 pm

  17. Hi Petite,
    I have had this problem before- but it is a Krups. Try checking where the grounds filter thing fits into the machine- sometimes the top where the filter touches gets clogged up. I have also had the filter itself be clogged. Both cause the pressure problem. One last thing that might cause it- if I use too fine of a grind espresso, the water doesn’t flow through enough causing the spraying.
    I almost gave up on mine too when this started happening to me-it is pretty alarming! Fredo just might need a little loving care. (-:
    Good luck! Amy in PDX

    Comment by Amy — June 14, 2006 @ 4:36 pm

  18. I like your vacous zeitgeist musings and the way in which they are phrased. Respite from yet another day in the office. I haven’t read all that much of your site but I was hoping for a little more about your environment, that of Paris and the quirks of the inhabitants. Just a thought.

    Comment by tobias — June 14, 2006 @ 6:04 pm

  19. Oh, the Latin male,,,:) Well I’m sure he loves you – after all he performed well for you the first few days. Hmm, baby him? :)

    Comment by Terry — June 14, 2006 @ 6:15 pm

  20. Tobias: vacuous zeitgeist…whatever?

    You might try my 2004 vintage, lots of Paris and its inhabitants there, pretty much did it to death.

    Comment by petite — June 14, 2006 @ 6:55 pm

  21. This is one of those instances where a mixed race marraige actually makes sense. Get a German machine, just use Italian coffee.

    Comment by TheBoy — June 14, 2006 @ 7:27 pm

  22. had a similar problem with my Pavoni – the problem was with a rubber(ring) that was a bit worn from all the use and not tight enought to hold the steam!


    Comment by Margret — June 14, 2006 @ 7:52 pm

  23. I don’t know anything about espresso/cappucino makers as I still drink ground coffee out of a regular coffee maker (Granted, it is imported coffee. So, I do feel a bit chic and international. :D)

    But I do know about Latin males. I don’t care how much bravado and machoness they show up front-they all want to be babied. (Seriously, though, I’m so sorry you got scalded.)

    I do like TheBoy’s comment about mixed race marriages. German machine-Italian coffee. Sounds like a match to me.

    Comment by Anias Nin — June 14, 2006 @ 8:11 pm

  24. Ah, those Latins… sexy as hell but very unpredictable, and how well I know. Find yourself a nice Scandinavian, Dutch or German replacement ASAP.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — June 14, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

  25. Very good post – it made me laugh for the entire day. And I had to run straight to the next coffee shop afterwards.
    My choice was Columbian, though.

    Comment by Bibil — June 14, 2006 @ 8:44 pm

  26. Just to make you smile – re coffee, my english friends FRENCH husband likes WI coffee, she won’t drink anything less than double pression. I’ve heard of role reversal, but stereotype reversal?!

    Comment by J — June 14, 2006 @ 9:06 pm

  27. I had that EXACT machine a few years ago. Given to me by a friend who is a sales rep. for Segafredo – he used to get the machines given to him as a reward for hitting his sales targets.

    It began to play up so I got rid of it. (Standard practice for latin lovers). Come to think of it, I’m sure I gave it to someone as a wedding present…

    I know you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, but honestly, just look at that 80’s red and white boxy design. The thing is practically an antique. Don’t wait for the 3rd strike – ditch it now.

    Comment by Mancunian Lass — June 14, 2006 @ 9:47 pm

  28. I just finished reading your blog from start to finish. You have a very entertaining style and make great observations. Great way to pass the time. I hope things work out for you.

    Comment by Funknrock — June 14, 2006 @ 10:24 pm

  29. My Coffee always tastes like mud because it’s always ground earlier that morning. But seriously, having been a coffee importer in a prior life and having been kicked out of Barista School, I can say that coffee is always a love/hate thing. I think the $20 stove top espresso maker is better for home use than the $1000 x-bar pump driven Italian jobber. The real difference is in the roast grind and the bean. Coffee older than 2 weeks should be chucked. Give that Italian Job (I had to say that; I have a Mini) back to the amazingly kind person who loaned it to you and concentrate on the parts that matter.

    Comment by Ben — June 14, 2006 @ 11:06 pm

  30. Ok , no one said it: “Not just a scalding – this is grounds for divorce!”

    Comment by eric — June 14, 2006 @ 11:43 pm

  31. As Amy said, it could be the filter area is clogged or that the grind is too soft. having worked a few years for a giant coffee retailer in college i ran into many of these problems, usualy right before we had to break down the machine and give it a good cleaning. i might suggest an old toothbrush and a bit of baking soda to get it all clean, and an old rag/dishtowel you dont mind getting grounds in to get into all it’s nooks and crannies. as well as you can run the espresso part, without the contraption in it, and let it drain into a cup, this will flush any gunk out. for the milk foaming wand you can fill a cup with very hot water and let the wand sit in it for at least 10 minutes, then open the nozzle and let a bit of steam out, to clean and use a sponge to get any crusty bits off it from the milk being burned onto it. i have to do this to my mother’s machine every time i visit her.

    Comment by Lynn — June 15, 2006 @ 12:21 am

  32. I sensed a little edge but will check out your ’04 vintage. I would very much consider a blog to be zeitgeist as it is of the moment. As for vacuous, that wasn’t a negative comment, I like the fluffy nature of this blog. One can over intellectualise at times in this world of pretense and it’s good to take a break. You’re indulging us and we as readers in turn, indulge you, no?

    Comment by tobias — June 15, 2006 @ 12:28 am

  33. Y’know .. i have it on good authority that to get a good old froth from an Italian ‘machin’ you’re better off doing it manually with a plunging motion – do i get ten points for coming up with best double entendre so far ?


    Comment by Damiel — June 15, 2006 @ 1:58 am

  34. I’d get rid of the devil machine – especially with tadpole around. Mind you I just drink nescafe, so i suppose I’m too chavvy to join in this conversation!

    Also I have a guilty – I don’t think you look like Nicky Hambleton-Jones in general. Just in those photos. I feel all mean and nasty now. I wear glasses and I realise that sometimes people cna’t see beyond them. *maybe because i wear Deirdre Barlow face shields.

    Comment by hmmm — June 15, 2006 @ 1:33 pm

  35. Coffee… A real love affair!

    Comment by Cream — June 15, 2006 @ 2:03 pm

  36. …I just read the last line. I was hoping the paypal donations would be more significant *sigh* !

    Comment by fjl — June 15, 2006 @ 2:28 pm

  37. ha! that happened in a recent franco-belgian flick I saw– “du jour au lendemain”– but I didn’t realize that actually happened in real life, I assumed it was for dramatic purposes but oh dear. Sorry I was wrong.

    I am best of friends with my Krups/Nescafe machine– he’s loud as heck when I force his arm down but otherwise he behaves quite nicely and makes a perfect cup every time. I have to admit though I haven’t gotten initmate enough to touch his frothing member.

    Comment by maitresse — June 15, 2006 @ 3:15 pm

  38. there’s enough raw material on this page to obtain a proper understanding the attitude of women towards men, for anyone who’s interested that is.
    Switch things round and consider some male whining on about his Italalian hoover, Frederica, who is just not up to the job of cleaning up after him, constantly nagging, complaining about her headaches, and “please not to night i’m not in the mood” kind of stuff. You look on us men and treat us as tools & fools and, whenever it suits you, as oppressors.
    My arse!

    Comment by Trevor — June 15, 2006 @ 6:51 pm

  39. I agree w/ Margret; we had to replace the O Ring on our Krups after 3 years, and then it behaved perfectly again. good luck – good coffee is a blessing!

    Comment by Alice — June 15, 2006 @ 7:38 pm

  40. Amy and Lynn are right, the filter and/or water outlet into the coffee-grounds-holder is blocked. Soak the filter and its holder (separated) in a vinegar solution overnight, then get a sachet of decalcifying solution and run that through it a few times. Don’t forget to rinse very well before drinking anything out of it again.

    There should be a safety pressure-release, but this too appears to be blocked. I’d suggest taking it in to a friendly neighbourhood coffee-machine-repairer for a tuneup.

    Comment by udge — June 15, 2006 @ 8:53 pm

  41. I understand what Trevor is saying, but men are guilty of the same thing. When we are in a room with guys we say all the things we can’t say when the women are in the room. We love and hate the women in our lives the same way we love and hate coffee machines, cars and computers.

    Comment by Ben — June 15, 2006 @ 9:05 pm

  42. Sort of understand where Trevor is coming from,… BUT until men are paid less than wimmin for doing the same job, until men avoid going out for fear of being attacked by wimmin, until men are judged more on appearance than on ability then don’t moan YET! Don’t take it personally, just had a bad day with a MSP colleague. PS Have NEVER heard a woman say ‘phwoar,look at the **** on that’ either!

    Comment by J — June 16, 2006 @ 5:51 am

  43. I hope you don’t get burned again

    Comment by jr — June 16, 2006 @ 8:18 am

  44. My boyfriend (who I met through my blog) got a bit jealous when I started fondling espresso machines while we were shopping for home appliances the other day.

    Comment by Curiosa — June 16, 2006 @ 8:58 am

  45. Had Fredo been drinking?

    Is Trevor jealous?

    Comment by ellie — June 16, 2006 @ 1:51 pm

  46. You are priceless! Have a fab time in London!

    Comment by Mama Duck — June 16, 2006 @ 2:54 pm

  47. It takes a tough woman to know how to handle a hot tempered Italian – the following may help bring him in line:

    NEVER attempt to dissasemble or reload machine when hot!

    Before pouring water in, check existing water level – I suspect overfill may have been what caused the accidents.

    It is necessary to release leftover pressure within the machine AFTER EACH USE by employing the frothing arm until it runs out of steam, regardless of what type of beverage was just made.

    Take it from a Latina who loves coffee – if you treat this fellow right, he will give you many years of frothy, sultry liquid love right back.

    Here’s to many happily brewed awakenings!

    Comment by Belle — June 16, 2006 @ 11:36 pm

  48. Hi Petite,

    I LOVE your blog! Thanks for making me smile everytime, it was excellent! ~ Rachell

    Comment by Rachell — June 17, 2006 @ 2:42 am

  49. Hello Petite

    Your blog was really good. Hope now you will never got those burn marks again!

    Have a good time in London!:)

    Comment by Linda — June 19, 2006 @ 9:26 am

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