How to Order Breakfast in Italy

September 28, 2009

Italians never eat breakfast as we know it in America with cereal, eggs, toast, and bacon. No, Italians wake up to the clank of cups and whooshes of steam as the head to the nearest bar before work to order un cappuccino e un cornetto (a cappuccino and a buttery pastry croissant).

A bar in Italy is not where you mosey up and order a beer or martini and chit-chat with the stranger next to you.

An Italian bar is refinement with a take-your-time attitude. If you travel to Italy, the bar is one of the first things you will see in the airport. Shiny counter tops with glass mirrors and baristas smartly dressed in starchy uniforms take your oder and pump out cups of cappuccini faster than you can say, “Un cappuccino per favore.”

Cappuccino starts out as espresso, but is brewed in a larger cup, then steamed milk that looks like a fluffy white cloud is poured on top.

Espresso is strong coffee that is brewed in an espresso machine in which hot water is forced through the coffee at very high pressure to extract as much flavor as possible. Espresso is served in small demitasse cups.

There are some rules, though, that you should know before attempting to order espresso or cappuccino:

1. Pay first, order second. Tell the cashier what you want and pay for it. She or he hands you a receipt that you take to the bar and give to your server. Then you’ll get your order.

2. Never order a cappuccino after 11:00 a.m. That will immediately alert everyone at the bar that you are a tourist! After 11:00 a.m., espresso is the drink of choice among Italians.

3. Please don’t call it “ex-presso”! It is espresso (pronounced s-press-o).

4. Don’t ask for lemon peel to go with your espresso! You will just get a blank stare.

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