The Secret History of Art
Noah Charney on Art Crimes and Art Historical Mysteries

The Secret History of Art – Noah Charney on Art Crimes and Art Historical Mysteries

Monkey Butt Coffee & the Debut of Honest Cooking Magazine

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Honest Cooking, an elegant online magazine about food, cooking, and edible culture, has just published the debut issue of their new iPad magazine.  Honest Cooking iPad Magazine is beautifully crafted in a retro style that is glorious to behold.  The photographs are likewise excellent, taking full advantage of retina display.  Best of all, the magazine is free.  For all foodies, it is a must-download.

Topping it off, The Secret History of Art has a feature article in the magazine, with the (hopefully) evocative title of “Monkey Butt Coffee.”  A teaser is below…

Monkey Butt Coffee

by Noah Charney

“This morning I drank a cup of monkey butt.  While that image sinks in, permit me to explain.

I am a great coffee lover.  I look forward to my coffee the way (I’m told) smokers anticipate their cigarette, or (I’m told) crack users lust after their crack.  (There’s a reason I mention crack, bear with me).  I’m not addicted to coffee—I have 2-3 cups a day.  I’m also not snooty about it.  I don’t need an hour-long, lavishly-poured Japanese extraction technique, nor a bean handpicked by a Sumatran virgin listening to harpsichord music.  I just like coffee.

I split time between Italy and Slovenia.  In Italy, I drink cappuccino in the morning and espresso macchiato in the afternoon.  In Slovenia, most folks drink Turkish coffee (a nice holdover from the days of Ottoman raping and pillaging), which has grown on me.  When I first tried it, I remembering thinking that it tasted like it had been percolated with dishwashing detergent, and I wasn’t too partial to the mouthful of grounds that I kept inadvertently sucking up.  Now I like it: nothing launches you from groggy to vibrating like your morning cup of Turkish coffee.  But at home, my inherent lassitude encourages me to use an American filter coffee maker.  When I’m in Rome, where I teach, I frequent Tazza d’Oro, which is probably the favorite destination among in-the-know coffee drinkers worldwide.  But while I love my coffee, I’m not sure I can taste the difference between Ethiopian Harrar and Sumatra.  I just like it when it tastes good, whatever its origin, denomination, phylum, or religious affiliation.

I sometimes feel that I inhabit a hybrid zone that is unacceptable.  People are either pretentious about their coffee, treating it like fine wine, or they don’t give a hoot and don’t even think about what they are drinking.  But there is a middle ground: those of us who want it to taste good and take note of the brands we buy, but who are not all in your face if you didn’t percolate at 106 degrees.  I know I like Tazza d’Oro and Illy, and I know that 100% Arabica beans are the ones you want, but that’s about as far as I go.

Or, as far as I went.  Because I recently tried the famous, and famously pricy Jamaica Blue Mountain, prepared for me lovingly (and for only 50 cents more per cup) at Tazza d’Oro.  For decades, coffee from the Blue Mountains of Jamaica was considered the finest in the world, and its price reflected this.  It ranges from three times to ten times as expensive, per kilo of beans, as other high-end coffees.  And it’s damn good.  Each time I’ve tried it, I’ve noted its caramelicious flavor, distinctive, recognizable, and fantastic.  Jamaica Blue Mountain is my favorite, and one of the few “vintages” that I could pick, metaphorically blindfolded, out of a lineup of coffees.  To me it is worth the occasional splurge, like the decision to go for truffle shavings on your steak, or a great Brunello over a good Rosso.  But my tastefulness ends there.  I can’t tell the difference between the taste of the black truffles and the white ones, which cost four times as much as the black variety.  I just know I like truffles.

So, you may be wondering, where does the reference to crack and monkey butts come in?  I’m glad you asked.”

(To read the full essay, just download the free Honest Cooking iPad Magazine)

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