But, I AM an American!… Cappuccino at Night

Cappuccino at Night










So, I know I’m not supposed to drink cappuccino at night in Italy. The thing is, I absolutely love cappuccino, so why not?

No matter where you are there is a sense of “the way things are” that is not meant to be changed. All societies will have their own share of ethnocentrism, traditional customs and their own “way” of doing things.

Drinking a cappuccino at night- I’m not hurting anyone, I’m happy, and all will still be right in the world if I do.

Every night after my meal when the server asks if I would like a caffè, I say “cappuccino per favore”. Then I laugh and say “Sono Americana” (I’m an American) and I shrug. This somehow excuses me from the sacred “No cappuccino after noon” rule.  They make a sale, I get my cappuccino, everybody’s happy. Right?

Last week we were eating dinner with our friends Filippo and Camilla, an Italian couple. They each speak about as much English as I speak Italian, so we are able to work ourselves well enough around a conversation. In the beginning of the meal, Filippo looks to my companion and asks in Italian, “Why is she eating bread with her pasta?” Eyes rolling, my friend gives the common response, “Americana”.  Filippo looks curiously, nods, then continues with his meal. I unapologetically continue eating my bread with my pesto penne and the conversation goes on. I’m enjoying my meal and again, I’m not hurting anyone.

However, I’m curious, in the United States bread and pasta go together like peanut butter and jelly! I never knew that in some regions in Italy this was “one of those rules”.  When the dinner was over I ordered a regular coffee, which in Italy is an espresso. I didn’t want to break too many rules in one night! However, it didn’t stop the conversation from turning into my love of nighttime cappuccino! Apparently, it’s like putting mayonnaise on your cake or ice cream on your steak. However, if you order a macchiato, which is espresso with a dash of steamed milk, you’re ok.

Everyone tells you, and it says in all the books, if you order cappuccino after dinner you will look like an American. Wait! am an American! It’s not exactly like I could blend in if I wanted to. My 5’10” stature and blonde hair instantly peg me as an outsider, most likely American. I have also been told that I walk like an American, whatever that means. I often get spoken to in English, even though I haven’t said one identifying word. I am all about respecting the culture of where I am and even taking on some of those norms myself.

I think it’s important no matter where you go, whether it’s someone else’s home or in another country. The last thing I would want to do is offend someone. I just really don’t find the timing of my coffee of choice to be particularly offensive. Perhaps one night after a lovely dinner, while Filippo and Camilla are sitting at home, they may think to have a cappuccino in my honor… just to see. Who knows, they may even like it!

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12 Responses to But, I AM an American!… Cappuccino at Night

  1. Keryn @ walking on travels December 31, 2012 at 8:34 PM #

    LOVED this post. I am a huge fan of cappuccinos too and I’m always sad when I get the long sigh when I order one outside of the appropriate hour. I have actually rushed to a cafe to make it in time! I like your philosophy better. If they have milk on hand who am I hurting. Viva la cappuccino!

    • laurelp December 31, 2012 at 9:30 PM #

      That’s right! No apologies, I’m an American… it’s just how we roll:) Viva la cappuccino!

  2. Jenna January 3, 2013 at 6:38 AM #

    Very refreshing :) When I was in Italy in November, I was surprised at all the “rules.” I got some nasty looks about wanting to order wine with pizza. As you said, if you’re not hurting anyone, who cares?!

    • laurelp January 3, 2013 at 7:02 AM #

      What? Is there really anything that wine does NOT go with in Italy?! It also cures just about anything :)

      Yeah, I just laugh and drink my coffee. It really amuses me now.

  3. Terri January 8, 2013 at 1:25 AM #

    Interesting post. My Italian-American father always comments about how bread shouldn’t be served with pasta, but the rest of America apparently ignores that. I find local customs very interesting. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I say drink it how you want, when you want!

    • laurelp January 8, 2013 at 1:42 AM #

      It makes sense, that is a LOT of carbs! Although, I had never heard that before. Thank you for your comment, Terri!

  4. wandering educators May 15, 2013 at 10:27 PM #

    i agree – do what you love. :)

  5. Ann May 16, 2013 at 11:56 AM #

    I don’t have anything of substance to add to this post. I love what you said and didn’t want to close the window before saying that. Nothing wrong with knowing who we are, wherever we are, if it doesn’t actually hurt anyone.

    Plus, I like spaghetti for breakfast.

  6. Colleen Lanin May 17, 2013 at 11:03 PM #

    Love this! I also order cafe creme at night in France, which they think is cuckoo.

  7. Andi July 30, 2013 at 8:25 PM #

    Brava! This has happened to me so many times around the world. Most people learn to just accept that sometimes I do things a little differently. That is the best part of traveling, finding the balance of respecting cultural norms while still getting what you want! Thanks for sharing your link on my post, it brought me to you!


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