We really wonder, is there any food of Italy that represents its unique identity? Pasta? Pizza?
Our answer: cappuccino and croissant, or cornetto.
When taken together as a pair, cappuccino and cornetto, as they are done in Italy, reveal something special about the country's food culture. Along with the Vespa and Fiat 500, cappuccino and cornetto complete a trio that has symbolised the rebirth of Italy after World War II. All three have been inseparable companions to generations of Italians – reliable, sincere, convenient, joyful friends with an underlying aura of romance.
Eighty five per cent of Italians savour this wonderful pairing as their first choice for breakfast. Enjoying a cappuccino and cornetto at a bar represents a sort of rite of passage to adult life. 'Cappuccino and cornetto' is post-graduate, white-collar, grown-up fare, but at the same time, it is an egalitarian food experience because it is eaten by people standing next to one another regardless of their roles, positions or professions in society.
If your upcoming travel plans include Italy, here are some tips to taste the duo as Italians do:
- Forget about eating it while sitting at a table. Cappuccino and cornetto are meant to be enjoyed while standing at a bar counter. The more crowded the bar, the more rewarding the experience.
- The pronunciation might be a barrier, but a shortened form may help. Say, Cappuccio.
- Order brioche if you are in Venice or Milan, cornetto if in Florence or Rome.
- Act like a regular and just say, Il solito, per favore – the usual, please – and enjoy what is given to you.
- Lastly, the time to have a cappuccino and cornetto is crucial. From 8–10am is the ideal time, however, Italians are willing to extend the time until noon for tourists. But please: make every effort not to go beyond noon and, more importantly, never order it after a meal.
Here in Hong Kong, ilBelPaese is Casa Rinaldi in Sheung Wan (299 Queen's Road Central) has launched a new breakfast concept from 8–11am every weekday morning, where you can enjoy top-notch Casa Rinaldi coffee and a complimentary croissant to start your workday at your best.