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A Florentine Breakfast

Arcelia Martin


The typical Italian breakfast is the cozy morning duet of a cappuccino and a cornetto. In comparison to other countries, Italian breakfast is considerably smaller. It was not until recently that breakfast become a part of Italian culture. “Since ancient Roman times, breakfast was not big in Italy and it later became a habit to have a pastry or sweet biscuit to go with a cappuccino,” Guido Gualandi, History of Mediterranean Food professor at Gonzaga University said.


A cappuccino is understood and recognized internationally as the Italian coffee drink prepared with espresso, steamed milk and foam. The cornetto however, is interchanged with its French cousin the croissant, most likely due to their similarities.


Both cornetti and croissants are buttery crescent shaped pastries, that are made with yeasted dough and either left plain or filled with jams, cream or chocolate. Quintessential to both Italian and French breakfasts, the two rely on a process called lamination, which is the folding and rolling of butter into the dough to create the flaky and layered quality.


The two pastries share a similar ancestry, tracing back to 13th century Austria. The Viennese kipferl is a crescent shaped morning bread, denser than a croissant. Other than their crescent shape, this ends the cornetto and croissants list of similarities.


Cornetti are richer and sweeter than croissants as the dough is enriched with egg, sugar and vanilla. This makes the pastry denser and less flaky then the croissant. Cornetti are so loved in Florence that there is a culture of wandering the city streets in the middle of the night to find a hidden secret bakery. While there are no maps pinning these sweet corners, it is advised to follow your nose.


As a cappuccino completes the standard Italian breakfast it has been socially confined to its morning routine. Milk is considered too heavy to drink at any other part of the day. Breakfast is the only meal that should be accompanied by any coffee drink, as otherwise the coffee should stand alone.


Caffè is an espresso shot or a very strong black coffee, however can mingle with all hours of the day. There is also a Macchiato which is an espresso with a dash of frothed milk. Or a caffè lungo. which is a longer strong black coffee. And for a “corrected” coffee, one can order a caffè corretto, which is coffee with liquor.