Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Food’

The ex-most beautiful cafe in the world: Caffe Florian in Venice

May 11, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Coffee, Food, Places, Traveling 1 Comment →


Venice is atrociously overpriced, crowded and touristy and we still love it. It has extracted our pound of flesh (which we have gained back plus plus). The second we board the vaporetto from Tronchetto (the car park) we feel weirdly happy, knowing full well that we will be gouged, swarmed and our senses assaulted with kitsch. Incidentally, the answer to the question that gets asked a lot is: No, we don’t smell anything.


Caffe Florian on the Piazza San Marco is the city’s most famous cafe, and it turns 300 in 2020, making it the oldest cafe in the world. Every would-be ruler of the planet has stopped by, from Napoleon to Hitler. The cafe probably overcharged them, too.


Nine euros (Php 414) for a cup of coffee! 13 for a croissant with ham in it. And if the orchestra is playing outside, 6 euros for the music.


The waiters are more elegant than the diners and you feel like you have to mind your manners or be judged.


But what an exterior (and the interiors aren’t plain, either). After coffee, you are compelled to conquer something.

Is the New York Cafe in Budapest the most beautiful cafe in the world?

May 08, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places, Traveling 6 Comments →


While wandering around the city, we heard that the New York Cafe in Budapest is the most beautiful cafe in the world. We don’t know who gives out these titles, but after hearing it many times we were intrigued enough to go. It’s one of the stops on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour we took (Most efficient option for people with no sense of direction who would otherwise waste hours looking for their destination, or end up taking taxis).


More beautiful than Caffe Florian in Venice? we thought. What nerve. (Just because our name was invented for The Merchant of Venice, we think we’re linked to Venice haha.)


Then we shut up because holy crap, this is what greeted us.


It’s two centuries younger than Florian, but it’s vast, light and airy and holy crap, those walls and ceilings. Built in the 1900s, it was recently renovated. At one point it was the world’s most beautiful warehouse.


In the early 20th C its regulars included the writers Gyula Krudy and Deszo Kosztolanyi (Thank you, NYRB Classics, or we would never have read them), and the filmmakers Alexander Korda and Michael Curtiz (Casablanca).


For our very late lunch we had a latte macchiato and a spaghetti with a very rich beef sauce that made dinner redundant. We like Hungarian home cooking. How you feel about it depends on how you like goulash (like a soupy mechado) and paprika, and we love the stuff. It’s so filling, you have to walk across Budapest to digest it.

So you dine under a fresco, and the cost of spaghetti and coffee: 6,370 Hungarian forints, or PHP977, which is cheap for that splendor.


Outside, bustling streets. The lamps are held up by devils.

To tip or not to tip

April 08, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Food 8 Comments →

Waiters, Alfred Eisenstaedt

Tipping is confusing, and paradoxical. We tip some people who provide services but not others who work just as hard for just as little pay. It is insulting to leave any tip in Tokyo but offensive not to leave a large one in New York. It is assumed that the purpose of tipping is to encourage good service but we leave one only after the service has been given, when it is too late to change it, often to people who will never serve us again. Tipping challenges the sweeping generalisations of economists and anthropologists alike. To understand how and why we tip is to begin to understand just how complicated and fascinating we human beings are.

Read To Tip Or Not To Tip in Aeon.

Do you tip waiters? How much? In some places you have to leave a 15 percent tip or the staff will run after you. Some argue that since Manila restaurants already add a 10 percent service charge to your bill, you don’t have to tip. Others say that if you eat there regularly and don’t tip, hala ka. And what do you do about a really obtrusive waiter who interrupts your story as you’re getting to the punchline, to ask, “How is your food, sir?” Or a waiter who seems to be listening too closely to a very private conversation?

Ten Plagues Cocktails for your annual viewing of The Ten Commandments

April 01, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Movies 3 Comments →

When Anne Baxter cries, “Moses, Moses, Moses, you stubborn, adorable fool!” have an extra shot.

Plague 6: Boils
Cocktail: Bumpy Eruption

The go-to drink for when the afikomen* surprise at your sister’s seder** turns out to be the recently-divorced sweetheart you broke up with badly in high school and haven’t seen since. Swell for slow grudge-nursing throughout the evening, but for a truly memorable Passover meal you may want to down three in quick succession just before the partaking of the bitter herbs, all the better to bring to an explosive head every pustule of sibling rivalry, personal betrayal and unfulfilled promise that’s tormented your soul since the day you entered this vale of tears.

Especially satisfying with a big steaming pile of tsimmes* * * .

2 oz Cognac
1/2 oz Crème de Cassis
1 oz tequila
1/2 oz Cointreau

Instructions: Shake all ingredients in ice. Strain into martini glass. Garnish won’t help.

10 Plague Cocktails. Thanks to Noel for the link.

* dessert
* * Passover family ritual
* * * sweet stew

The name of the biscuit

March 17, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, History 1 Comment →


Blue Kitchen was all out of Arrowroot (a.k.a. uraro) cookies. We were a little relieved, because once we start eating them we cannot stop. For snacking carbs, we bought a bag of thin square biscuits called Jacobina. They were a childhood merienda treat, like otap or rosquillos, but we never knew they were called jacobina. We just referred to them as biscuits.

Why are these biscuits called Jacobina? Jacobina, like Jacobin. What did they have to do with the Jacobins, Robespierre, the Terror which followed the French Revolution? Is it because they resemble blades and remind people of guillotines? The jacobina we bought are the exact size of a razor blade. Or were they simply named after a person?

So we asked a historian where Jacobina biscuits got their name. After all, he’s written about local bakeries and we always have a giggle over the bread known as pampam. He was no help at all: he said maybe they had something to do with Jacob’s crackers. But that’s probably why he’s a historian and we write fiction.

Belatedly it occurred to us to google, although we think one should always figure out an answer first before going to the Internet. We learned that Jacobina is a trademark of a bakery in Cavite (so we should’ve asked Ige). Their website doesn’t explain the name, either. For now we will eat our biscuits and imagine the screams of the aristocracy losing their heads.

Kung hey faaat choy

February 18, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Food No Comments →


Saffy and her stuffed toy sheep, with a box of the world’s greatest hopia. Delicately flaky crust, finely ground mung bean paste. Hopia that you have to get from Xiamen, since they invented it.