Today, I headed out for the Cafe Med, as I often do in the late afternoon, for a chat with my friends. There are some pleasant spots along the way and this spot is one of them — where these sunshine loving flowers make a valiant effort — to grow in the shade.
After a moment’s pleasure, and a quick photo, it’s on to the Med. There the fun continues with a Bianco Coffee — black coffee with a topping of steamed milk — served by a trey cool barista.
As the time comes to sit down a strange thing is transpiring — the owner Craig Becker is posting a new sign upon our hollowed walls. This is a bit of a challenge for him because any change to this venue is met with a howl of disapproval by the old time regulars. Some of them have been coming here since the 1950s, and saying that they are stuck in the mud would be a gross understatement, ossified into the the marble would be more accurate and charitable. Anyway, up goes this sign.
“Caffe Latte Invented Here – While Seattle may have made this drink famous, It was invented here at the Caffe Mediterraneum in the late 1950’s. Lino Meiorin, one of the owners, was the first Italian-trained barista in the Bay Area. Customers were not used to the strong flavor of a traditional Italian cappuccino and would ask Lino for more milk. Speaking in Italian, he would tell the barista to put more latte (milk) in their cup. Finally he thought of putting a larger drink on the menu with the same amount of espresso but more steamed milk, and calling it a caffe latte. At first it was served in a bowl but soon they switched to a pint beer glass. Today lattes are often served in a wide mouth cup in order to show off hearts, rosettas and other latte art designs.”
This sign was put up a minute after this photo was taken, behind the counter to the right, and strangely enough there wasn’t a chorus of howls from the ancient regime. Perhaps they were dozing.
Outside strange things — well not totally strange — were happening. I didn’t know what it was so I took a quick photo. A working motto for a photographer is, “Shoot now and ask questions later.”
At first it looked like a terrorist with a bomb strapped to his belly, but on closer inspection it appeared to be just a bunch of electronics without a bomb. This isn’t being totally paranoid, because in the seat just out of sight to your left, is where the likes of Patty Hearst, Squeaky Fromme , Sara Jane Moore, Jerry Rubin, Dustin Hoffman, have sat, and probably Charlie Manson, and Ted Kaczynski. Some equally famous creators of major corporations have sat there too, but they probably wouldn’t like their names on the same list with those infamous folks.
I go outside and sit down with Howie, and Bob from Holland/Norway, and a new guy named Ole, and we talk about WW III, and our experiences in B-47’s. Howie was a USAF navigator from 1952-1956, and I was a pilot, so we have lots of weird stuff to talk about. As we were having this enjoyable session the strange folks mentioned before coagulated into a photo team fussing about a guy in Tibeten garb who showed up for an interview.
That went on for quite a while, and after they were done I went over, and asked what they were up to. The sound guy told me it was a French TV crew doing an interview. He didn’t seem very interested in talking to me, so I have no idea where it will be shown, if ever. When it does my little group will surely be in the background, and probably be the most authentic thing about the whole show. Everything else about what they were doing was a set-piece of TV interview blat. That interview was probably about as authentic as McDonald style American Apple Pie — which I actually like quite a lot — but it isn’t what my Grandma used to make. Of course, she was just an old farm lady who won pie contests at the County Fair picnics, so what did she know about authentic? Anyway, the Frenchmen had a good time making their authentic, on location, TV interview out in front of this “world famous coffee shop” and the granddaddy of all of the Starbucks.
They finally finished whatever they were up to and went home.
Howie, Bob and I talked for another hour or two, until we got so cold, and hungry, and tired we had to go home too. This was not an atypical day at the Med, and it is why so many people who come here have trouble leaving and those who do have fond memories, and come back for visits occasionally.