A little while ago, Shelley wrote about gassosa, a rather unique carbonated beverage. I’d say it’s the Italian equivalent of 7-Up or Sprite, but that doesn’t really do it justice. From Shelley’s post and subsequent comments, it seems that each area of Italy has its favorite manufacturer, and down here in Calabria is no different.There’s ours on the left.
This is actually new packaging–see how they’re playing up the “national beverage” aspect of gassosa with “Bevanda Tipica Nazionale” in green, white, and red? Clever, eh?
As I mentioned in my comment to Shelley’s post, it’s common here to mix gassosa with beer (birra e gassosa), especially at midday. It’s similar to a French Panaché, and I thought it was kind of odd until I tried it; then it reminded me of putting a wedge of lime in a Corona–citrus and beer can be tasty together!
Shelley’s post also made me think of another special drink we have in these parts, one that is unique to Calabria, to the province of Catanzaro (Girifalco) in fact–the Brasilena, described on the packaging as a “bibita al caffè,” a coffee drink.
Its website (yes, it’s *that* big time) says that the Brasilena has been produced for 60 years and is made with Calabrian sparkling mineral water and “the right dose of coffee,” which means that young people can drink it too. Other than in Calabria, you can find it in Puglia, Sicily, and Campania, and now it’s also entering the markets of Canada, United States, and Australia–and there are even requests from China.
I told you it was big time.
There is apparently also something called “Moka” produced in the neighboring province of Cosenza, but I’m not going to get involved in the apparent rivalry between the two. Those links are in Italian, but trust me, loyalties to one drink or the other run deep. I’ve never had a Moka, so I have no comment on this cosentina (from Cosenza) cousin.
Where does the name “Brasilena” come from? The website didn’t give any clues that I could find, but brasileña is the feminine adjective for something/someone from Brazil–in Spanish (not Italian). Perhaps the founder was Brazilian (or Spanish) or had ties to the South American country as many Calabrians emigrated there (or to Spain)? Or maybe the name is just a play on Brazil’s coffee bean production?
Or perhaps it all boils down to advertising, and an exotic name plus a cute Brazilian-ish girl adds up to sales. Cha-ching!
So, next time you’re in Calabria, the Brasilena is on me (if you’re wondering, it costs a euro a bottle at the bar), and I promise to try and refrain from singing its name to the tune of the Macarena when I order.
But be forewarned–I haven’t been successful so far.