An Americano with Amerigo

When the weather suggests spring might actually be on its way (and then cruelly snaps back into 35 degree mornings), I am tempted to start my evenings with an apéro (or two). 

At some point when living in Vancouver I learned about Campari. This was either from reading aboutBoulevardiers or from drinking a Negroni (both of these things happened, but I don't recall the order of events). While these drinks are delicious, they're also rather strong and probably not the best recipe for a weeknight evening. By replacing the hard liquor with seltzer, Americanos deliver all the flavor (well, all the bittersweet flavor) with the added bonus of bubbles. Moreover, why bother with buying Campari and Sweet Vermouth, when you can achieve a more or less similar concoction in a single bottle? 

I sometimes cheat even further by buying orange flavored seltzer water.

Apparently, the name Americano refers to the bitter flavor of the drink, and not any national preference. In fact, most Americans I know do not really care for the stuff. But what about the man who started it all (and clearly dyed his hat in some carmine)?

Amerigo Vespucci (1451–1512) is one of the great anomalies of elementary school history. If, as one learns, Columbus was the "first" then why does Mr. Vespucci get his name on both continents, while CC graces only a single country, part of the name of a citya universitya historical time period, and a day in October (in certain states). I guess Columbus has received his fare share of eponymns, but it still leaves a bit of mystery of how America came to be named as such. 

The argument is sometimes presented that Amerigo determined that this was actually a new continent and not the other side of Asia. However the actual naming was not an overt power play, but rather the decision of a German mapmaker, Martin Waldseemüller.

Lesson learned.

Amerigo knows a thing or two about food, being from Florence, a former employee of the Medici's, and the possible organizer of Columbus' beef provisions. He also is an expert at courtly manners. So it's difficult to say how he felt about his Americano, but he certainly drank it up as the sun set on my imaginary porch.