READERS' PICK: Somewhere other than here, in a time other than now (say the mid 1800s), chilled and partially frozen drinks went by the elegant Middle French word frappé. Nobody says frappé anymore, which is a shame. Nobody knows why. But modern English-speaking Americans, having achieved so much, yet lack a certain sophistication when it comes to naming things. Consider the "walkie-talkie," for example. Or to stick to the subject at hand, the moronic "smoothie," unappealingly literal "Slurpee," and non-descriptive "Blaster." Admit it, it's embarrassing. You don't want to hear yourself say it. Not that it's terribly important--we can all take comfort in our verbal inadequacy by agreeing we were much better off racing to put a man on the moon than questioning the etymology of "Tang," and where we were headed with that. Nonetheless, we'd wager the secret behind Starbucks' Frappuccino is not that it comes in five distinct flavors (and many more you can invent yourself), and is served thick and plentifully with whipped-cream on top in seconds flat, but rather that it restores some Old World dignity to the enjoyment of foo-foo beverages. It's a cappuccino frappé; that's what it is. Bastardized, but still discernible in its market-tested moniker: ice, espresso, milk, and sweet sensations like orange-mocha-chip, real caramel, semi-sweet chocolate brownie chunks, or simple Torani syrup flavors like vanilla, hazelnut, raspberry or Irish creme. This ingenious ploy, combined with the equally American need to take any name and make it shorter, leads us right back where we started in 1848, at "frappé." William Safire would be proud.
LOOSE CHANGE: Frozen Explosion, Chocolate Iguana, 7125 E. Tanque Verde Road; 500 N. Fourth Ave.; 7090 N. Oracle Road. During those dog days of summer, the desert heat leaves us parched and in need of revitalizing. We crave something cold and refreshing, yet not too sweet. Chocolate Iguana has created the perfect solution with its Frozen Explosion, available in two varieties. We go for the Fat-Free Frozen Explosion Cappuccino. They even accommodate our request to make it caffeine-free. After slurping down the rejuvenating frosty concoction, we feel compelled to splurge and go back for the low-fat mocha version. (Wanting to be responsible journalists, we think it necessary to try one of each). We like this one even better; that measly three grams of fat is a small price to pay for the mocha's rich chocolate hit. Both varieties are frosty and restorative. Whipped up with skim milk, ice, vanilla, coffee and the secret Frozen Explosion powder, these treats are amazingly rich and creamy--and so thick we had to go back and ask for a spoon so we wouldn't miss a single drop of the frozen delight.