Whenever I find myself speaking to someone who has been away on a holiday to a foreign country, I always like to ask:
“And what do they usually eat for breakfast there…?”
Breakfast is usually where we have our first conversation of the day. It’s our first gathering of the day. It’s where we find the fortitude and nourishment to face whatever challenges lay ahead.
My friend once had the good fortune of spending the night at base camp on Mount Everest. I asked him what they serve on Mount Everest for breakfast.
“Well…” he began, “at 5:00 a.m. They open your tent and give you a cup of tea… That’s your breakfast. And then, they give you a hot washcloth… That’s your shower.”
Because of my German upbringing, as a child, breakfasts on weekends usually consisted of oatmeal with milk and brown sugar. During the week, it was rye bread, cold cuts, cheese, and liverwurst. Donuts were especially prized when they found their way to our kitchen table.
When travelling as a child, it was always the restaurant breakfasts that I most looked forward to.
Even as an adult, I still do.
And so, I was as intrigued to learn what they serve in Italy for breakfast, or as they say ‘breakfast’ in Italian:
Most hotels in Rome offer a free complimentary continental style breakfast.
Having done some travelling, I’ve learned that the term ‘Continental’ can be everything from a stale wrapped Danish, to the whole nine yards of scrambled eggs, bacon and even pancakes.
However, although my experience in Italy did not include scrambled eggs or bacon, the breakfasts we were served were tasty, nourishing and elegantly served.
You would probably want to start out with an orange juice. The juice alone would induce a double take from anyone in North America due to it’s reddish tinge…. as well as the egg yolks, it was interesting to find that they are more orange than yellow.
And so, in Italy, if you were to show up hungry for breakfast one morning, you could expect a brunch like setting featuring buns, slices of rye bread, cold cuts, ( mainly mortadella) hard boiled eggs, as well as a variety of cheeses and yogurts.
If you are inclined for something sweeter, (and who does not love to indulge while on holidays?) you are in for a banquet of fresh pastries, oversized donuts filled with cream, and of course, the obligatory muffins.
I always try to tuck few extra slices of bread into a napkin so that I can feed the birds at some point during our sightseeing. There are lots of benches and places to rest weary feet in Rome, so why not feed the birds while you take a breather?
And if you’re not into feeding birds, then grab an extra chunk of cheese during breakfast, and you’ve got yourself a nice little snack to recharge yourself as you charge up and down the famous seven hills of Rome.
And let us not forget the coffee.
You may, or may not know this, but customarily cappuccino is made of leftover coffee from the day before.
True, Italians can even make 12 hour old coffee taste enticing.
And if you have your heart set on an espresso, you will not be disappointed.
Real Italian expresso has the flavourful kick that is usually missing from North American expresso.
However, if you want to linger a little longer over your coffee, you might want to consider a Cafe Americano, which is an expresso, but with more water. It’s still much more flavourful than your average North American cup of coffee.
As much as I love the expresso, I find myself finishing it far too quickly and immediately wanting more. A Cafe Americano allows for at least ten minutes of pleasurable sipping while either conversing or people watching.
I could easily live in Rome. All I would need is a bed, some knitting, and a coffee cup. Then I would spend my days knitting, drinking coffee and watching my Italian world go by.
And then, in the words of the popular 1960’s song that was sung by the late great Sam Cooke:
“…What a bellisima world it would be.”