CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Previous Coffee Columns >> Mama's & Leonie's

Back Buzz - December 14, 2005

pumping heart Mama's and Leonie's, 111 Norfolk Street, Sheffield S1, South Yorkshire

Lately my schedule has been so hectic that I find myself getting hopelessly behind with everything, including my web columns. The fact that this one is again so late has nothing to do with procrastination, or even the fact that the holiday season is getting so close I can feel its hot breath on the back of my neck. It's just that every time I've found myself with an available hour which I could use to go out in search of espresso, another massive avalanche of fate comes rolling along to derail my plans, and I never make it into the station.

But last week I was feeling so guilty about being so behind that I was determined to succeed. On Friday, having 3 full hours available in Sheffield City Centre to complete a mere 6 errands, I promised myself I would fit in a caffeine adventure.

My destination was a shop a friend had told me about, Hidden Records. Apparently not only did this record shop serve espresso, but the drinks were made by reportedly the best barista in the city. When I found the shop, located just opposite the Peace Gardens, the door was locked and there was a knee-deep pile of dust-covered post on the floor. Ah, well, so it once had the best barista...

I moved on through Fargate and down Norfolk Row to the Twenty Two A cafe, but it had just closed for the day. As I was trudging dejectedly toward Surrey Street, heading toward the Winter Gardens and the central library -- my final stop for the day -- I passed a window which announced loudly, in painted script, CAPPUCCINO TO GO. The window belonged to one of those old city-style Italian restaurants that you never consider frequenting because nobody you know has ever said a word about it. Until now I, and probably my entire circle of Sheffield friends, had been content to live our lives completely oblivious of Mama's and Leonie's.

So that's why I decided to give it a try.

As I entered I was greeted with the expected smell of pasta and pizza. Since the few tables in the downstairs room were occupied with late afternoon diners I sat at the marble counter and ordered a cappuccino, which the waitress produced promptly, so promptly that I failed to catch her sprinkling it with chocolate. Ah well, I thought as I scraped the chocolaty foam off, at least it's Italian. It wasn't the greatest cappuccino I've had in Sheffield but it was perfectly enjoyable and quite old-world Continental to boot. It filled the bill, it did, and it came accompanied by a refreshingly unexpected non-trendy environment. And in my ubiquitous black beret, red lipstick and nails, and new black coat with the thick black fake fur collar I felt appropriately dressed.

I have no idea what Mama's and Leonie's food is like -- or even who Mama and Leonie are, and if they're in fact related -- but the smells wafting through their restaurant are nice. And it does feel classically, unpretentiously Italian. Perhaps I'll stop in again for another cappuccino, maybe while I'm doing -- or failing miserably at doing -- my Christmas/Chanukah/Solstice shopping.

And since the end of another year is nigh and I still haven't replied to all my e-mails or sorted out the problems with my Mac, following is a related e-mail exchange from last century with my Chicago-cum-Brooklyn friend:

Sorry I haven't been communicating lately, but my Mac, she no work...and she go into garage for fixing and now everything OK. I hope you got a good recommendation for your Mac mechanic, because I've heard about this scam where they install new brake linings on your interior disk drive whether it needs them or not. And then when you're out, say, speeding down the Info Highway, perhaps checking up on the latest Australian Satellite Journal, the linings overheat and blow the RAM belt, which causes the speed doubler to lock up and your printer port block to crack. And there you are out there, stranded a hundred miles from Alice Springs with not one mechanic within light years who's even heard of a Mac...

So what I'm saying is, be careful! It's a Gates-eat-Apple world out there.

And on the subject of unanswered e-mails, which are full of words, here is another e-mail exchange with my Bay Area friend from this century:

From the London Times' Word Watching column I learned the useful word JUMENTOUS, which means "resembling horse's pee". It is defined in the Sydenham Society's Lexicon of Medicine and Allied Sciences as follows: "A term applied to urine which is high-coloured, strong-smelling, and turbid, like that of a horse." From jumentum (obs.) which means "beast of burden".

That's a great word! Of course it has utility in beer tasting as well as medical diagnosis. If I were to define a practical vocabulary for the English language, jumentous would have to be in there along with defenestrate.

Now that I think of it, didn't that word appear in the poem "Jabberwocky"? Something like "Beware the jumentous bandersnatch"? or perhaps "Jumentous day, callooh-callay!" So could one jumentously defenestrate, i.e. take a long piss out of the window like a horse?