July 06, 2012

Horse 1340 - Coffee And Fascism

I think that the one of the most elegant devices of the Twentieth Century, surely has to be the Moka Pot. Patented in 1933 by Luigi De Ponti for the Bialetti company, the moka pot or "caffettiera" (coffee maker) in Italian is both elegant and simple and very very reliable because it has no moving parts. As a result of its incredible reliability, the same moka pot can be used on an electric or gas stovetop or even used on a barbecue or open fire.
The coffee which a moka pot produces will not usually have the same crema as something made with a fancy espresso machine because the coffee itself isn't under the same amount of pressure but because the water is forced through the coffee bucket in the device, all the flavour of a fancy espresso machine is retained. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars, a moka pot can be had for under thirty. There's something delightfully subversive about the moka pot though, and it has to do with the Bialetti company.

Mussolini brought Fascism to Italy in the 1920s but Italians are all far too cool to ever pay attention to what their governments think. There is a curious phrase in Italian "La Dolce Vita" which literally means "the sweet life". Fascism was never going to properly work in Italy, not in a nation who ride about on motor scooters without a helmet and who pay a fortune for badly cut suits and poorly built motor cars.

 Alfonso Bialetti chose as the logo for his company a caricature of his son Renato with one finger raised as if ordering an espresso, or at least that is the official explanation. Bialetti himself later joked after the war that it was a parody of the Saluto Romano or "Roman Salute" employed by both Fascist Italy and more famously by the Third Reich.

I find it quite fitting that l’omino con i baffi or "the mustachioed little man" should survive and be loved by millions and that the horrible Fascist regimes died off, oh so many years ago. Old Alfonso would have been proud I think.


swag said...

You'd be right if the Bialetti Factory hadn't already fleed for Eastern Europe:


Rollo said...

I fail to see the connection between the factory moving in 2010 and the Facsists of the 1930s and 1940s. I could be wrong though.