Leave the cappuccino making to the professionals

There is no better way to welcome yourself home from a vacation than by coating your kitchen in a fine mist of 2% milk.

This latest disaster being the result of an attempt to make a latte with a cappuccino machine that I once purchased with expiring credit card points in 2006. I used it exactly once – on Easter at my parents’ house when we were in for a particularly boring year because no children would be around.

“Oh wow!! Is that the cappuccino maker?!” my mother asked as I carried it through the back door. “Let me see!!”

It was like I brought home a puppy. Lame as that may be, it was the best entertainment I could come up with – this high-end coffee maker – and I wasted no time kicking off a one-woman show powered by a milk frother and a small hand grinder. When I had finished pouring eight little cups, everyone agreed: “That machine is really loud.”

“I mean, really,” my grandmother said.

That was nearly ten years ago and despite the fact that I moved about as many times and gave up my microwave, blender, hand mixer, and virtually every other small appliance that any self-respecting woman has in her kitchen, I still kept that cappuccino maker. Inexplicably so, since it always spends the remainder of the year in a cabinet taking up space that would be better served by just about anything else that I actually use.

And that’s where it would have remained had I not come to enjoy a daily latte during my week in Ireland. It was a perfectly simple treat – a cup of coffee, a book and some people watching. And rather than just savor that memory and look back on it fondly, I decided that I should recreate it in my Harlem apartment. Coincidentally, I also had half a gallon of milk that was just three days away from expiring in my refrigerator that needed drinking.

So with that, I dug the machine out from under my kitchen sink. The instruction booklet was long gone, and I should have taken that as a sign, but instead I just went about making the latte to the best of my recollection – which is to say that I turned on the frothing nozzle before I stuck it in the cup of milk.

I may as well have walked into my kitchen and just threw that cup of milk at the walls.

But eventually, I did manage to get the latte into a cup. And I did sit down with a book and half-read, half-watched 118th St. before deciding that my neighborhood would never really be able to stack up to my days in Dublin. Instead of endless shuffle of well-heeled Europeans, I had a decidedly less glamorous view: One of people lugging laundry baskets and industrial sized packages of paper goods out of Costco. People walking their dogs, three at a time, all tangled up. And a whole pack of kids on scooters that were going way too fast to be on a sidewalk.

But it’s charming in its own way. In its Harlem way. Because it’s home and I’m happy that it’s mine.

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