As a Saigon Dad, I’m always looking out for a little treat for my kid – while as a Saigon writer, I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in cafés.
When my little girl comes along with me, I have to get her something nice so that she’ll let me concentrate on my work. Trouble is, she usually wants what Daddy’s having, and while any kid of mine is inevitably predestined to become a caffeine addict well before adulthood, even I think that two is a little early to get hooked on the coffee.
In my country, as in many others, they’ve already thought of a way around this – it’s called the fluffy. The same warm milk and froth without the shot of espresso in a child-sized mug. Throw in a marshmallow or splash of chocolate syrup, and it’s an instant hit. Very simple concept, easy for any café worth its salt to do, and not hard for a customer to explain to the barista if the café in question doesn’t have them on the menu. There’s surely no reason why anyone would refuse a request like this, and no reason why a parent wouldn’t pay for it either.
Not that you’d think, anyway.
In Ho Chi Minh City, where the fluffy hasn’t quite touched down in the international-style cafés yet, there’s a marked reluctance to think outside the box. On the rare occasion I’ve managed to explain what I’m looking for to the English-speaking staff, the results have been baffling. An adult-sized mug full of piping-hot milk no idiot would give a toddler without inviting a lawsuit is the most common offering; a half-sized mug that still has coffee in it is the second.My withering looks at the serving staff are always somehow lost in the cultural divide.
Thank you to Coffee Bean on Nguyen Van Cu for finally giving me what I wanted. At the Nowzone branch of this franchise, I got an espresso mug with a finger of not-too-hot milk filled to the top with froth, which I was able to describe to my delighted daughter as ‘milk bubbles’.
The chocolate powder canister at the self-serve station allowed me to shake on a little extra interest, and my girl left me in peace as she enjoyed her own kid-sized version of her Dad’s unembarrassed vice. What I really want is to see these parenting lifesavers on the permanent menu.
Any café in this town thoughtful enough to consistently serve good kid’s fluffies will certainly get a mention in this publication, as well as guaranteed patronage from this parent for starters!