Alas, Chantico, I Hardly Knew Thee

05 January 2006 · 7 comments

“I’d like a chantico and an apple fritter,” I announced to the Starbucks waitron this morning. I make a similar declaration about once a week.

Chantico!” shouted the waitron to the young woman standing at the steamer three feet away. Then she beamed at me and said, “You’re enjoying those chanticos while you still can, huh?”

“They’re going away?”

“That’s right.” She seemed quite pleased, actually. During the year that chanticos (chanticoes? chantici?) have been available, I’ve noticed that they’re a pain for the Starbucks waitrons. They often sigh or groan or make little looks of exasperation when I order them. About a third of the time, I’m asked if I’d mind waiting because “we have to make a new batch”. Apparently the chantico hasn’t sold as well as Starbucks could have wished. (I wonder if their numbers show some sort of statistical anomaly at the Canby, Oregon City, and Oak Grove stores — “Look, Marvin, chantici are especially popular in one county in Oregon. Why do you suppose that is?”)

“How long do I have before the chantico is gone for good?” I asked.

“Until we run out of the mix,” said the waitron with a satisfied air.

What will I do now? What did I order before the chantico came? I guess I tried to order steamed milk drinks, but half the time the waitrons would mess up and give me iced milk drinks. An iced milk is not so appealing as a chantico on a January morning.

(Note: the spellchecker in my text editor has no qualms with the word ‘waitron’. I am shocked.)

I used to carry my camera with me everywhere I went, but I’ve gotten out of the habit. Recently this has caused me much regret.

Last week the heavy rains caused the streams and rivers to swell and flood. There were several shots I missed: the overflow of Gribble Creek, the boathouse that had slipped its moorings and slammed into the side of the Oregon City Marina, the frothy full Willamette Falls, and countless flooded streams and ditches.

On Tuesday I missed two fantastic shots. The first featured dramatic lighting as a break in black storm clouds let the sun shine in at an odd angle, highlighting an old white barn in golden tones. I’m not sure exactly how I would have framed it, but at least if I had my camera with me I could have tried. The second would have been a wide-angle shot of towering billowy clouds near the Molalla hills, vast puffy structures the likes of which used to spark my imagination as a child.

Today I brought my camera with me to work. “Hot dog!” I thought as I pulled onto Oglesby. “Look at that.” The dark clouds over the Molalla hills showed the barest sliver of orange. When I got to work, I walked back to the field behind the shop to snap some images. (Not that I had a tripod with me, but that’s another story.) A great idea, but my camera battery was dead. Of course. When I fail to practice a hobby for a while, I forget the fundamentals. One of the fundamentals of photography is: check your battery (and always carry a spare).

The sunrise was gorgeous: pink and orange and red gilding the low charcoal clouds. I just don’t have it on film to prove it.

On my drive to work — as I was sipping my chantico — I decided that the title to this entry would be “Alas, chantico, I hardly knew thee”, with the caveat that I would need to google for the proper structure based on the source of this quotation. However, a google search was less-than-helpful. For one, it revealed thousands of matches (1.7 million to be precise). For another, it seems that most people use the structure “alas, [blank], we hardly knew ye”.

Ye? Ye? Can this be right? It feels wrong to me. Ye feels like it ought to be the nominative case, but maybe I’m just pulling that out of thin air. (I grant that my mind says that it is “we” who hardly knew whomever.)

What is the quotation I remember? Is it a mashup of Hamlet’s “alas, poor Yorick” and something else? How is it that the web is filled with close approximations with this, yet I cannot find the original? Lisa? Joel? Dave? Anyone care to point me in the right direction?

1 Amy Jo January 5, 2006 at 08:42

Sorry to hear about your beloved chantico. Can whip up something similar at home? Of course, that requires time, forethough, and some skill, which for me, run short especially in the morning. Also, I don’t have the equipment (nor the skill) to make a decent latte, something I can only find a handful of coffee shops and even then, only a few of the baristas can really pull it off. Paul chuckles at me, because he knows that I am eager to hear who made my drink and grumpiness will ensue if it isn’t someone on the yes list. In Alexandria, at Mishas, it peaved me when someone other than Frenchy (I never knew her name, but I do know that she fancies her self a bit of a gypsy now and then, drives an original Mini Cooper, and has two harlequin dalmations, one of which she signs to because the poor pooch is deaf). I often susspected that Paul would give up his place in line just so that Frenchy would help him rather than the person behind him. Here in Portland, we fequent Albina Press, and all of the baristas are adequate, but let’s just say, I’m happiest when Billy makes my brew.

2 J.D. January 5, 2006 at 10:13

Of course something similar can be prepared at home. It was only about a year ago that Craig introduced me to chocolate chaud, the drink upon which the chantico is based. It just requires more effort (though the home-made stuff is much better).

3 Amy Jo January 5, 2006 at 10:29

Ah, yes. You promised to make that for me, did you not?

4 Joel January 5, 2006 at 10:52

I’d go with a mishmash of the Hamlet quote “Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him Horatio” and the old ballad “Och, Johnny I hardly knew ye”.

5 Lisa January 5, 2006 at 13:50

My esteemed father, whose mind contains much trivia, posits that it’s originally from the old Irish ballad, as Joel suggests. Apparently, the ballad was then loosely used in some anti-war songs during the Vietnam era, and its use expanded from there.

6 Cindy January 27, 2006 at 17:42

Here’s my theory on the popularity of Chantico in Clackamas County, OR—I think it’s ENTIRELY due to the drink recommendation of one particular barista at the Oregon City store. I was there about a year ago and mentioned to him that I’m a chocolate addict and LOVE the idea of rich sipping chocolate but was disappointed that the Chantico was just too rich and too something—perhaps a bit bitter. He assured me that I would love it with 2 pumps of vanilla syrup and urged me to try it again. He was QUITE pleased with himself when I agreed with him that it was a winner. I’ve ordered it that way ever since—and at surrounding outlets in Clackamas and Multnomah County. I’m SURE this barista turned a number of area Starbucks customers on to the Chantico this way. If I hadn’t tried it that way at his recommendation—I never would have ordered it again!!!

7 Joseph Livesey June 26, 2006 at 12:29

I LOVE CHANTICO! when i worked at starbucks my favorite drink was a triple grande hazelnut chantico (i know, not even my fellow baristas wanted to try it. but i am somewhat chocolate-crazed.) when they started phasing it out, i had already quit and luckily had some friends smuggle me several bags of the stuff. i looked up your chocolate chaud recipe and that sounds great! i’m going to try it, thanks!

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