- Aim to wear clothes. In the privacy of your own home, a silk or linen dressing gown is permitted. Jockey shorts, not so much.
- All breakfast participants should gather in the same designated place and stay there for the duration of the ritual.
- Those present are encouraged to engage verbally with others rather than stare silently at their screens.
- A detailed answer should be given to the question ‘Hai dormito bene?’ with full details of troubling dreams, snoring partners and the wailing of the next-door neighbors’ cat.
- Analogue reading is permitted, with preference going to difficult-to-handle large format newspapers. The art of folding the newspaper back on itself with a bravura flip should be practiced beforehand, away from the milk jug.
- Reading and conversation are not mutually exclusive. The art of doing both at the same time while slicing the bread and opening the fridge with an outstretched leg should also be practiced beforehand.
- There will be strong, dark, good coffee – the subject of a forthcoming Come essere italiano lesson, ‘How To Drink Coffee’.
- You may opt to consume solid food as well as strong, dark, good coffee. This will consist of any or all of the following: the sweet croissant known as la brioche, which may come with a stealth-weapon filling of jam or honey; dry biscuits designed to be dunked in your caffèlatte and never emerge intact; and those simpatico packaged toast rectangles called fette biscottate that fall apart when you bite into them. It will not include meat, cheese or eggs, unless you come from one of those funny Alpine places up north.
- In recent years, urban Italians have discovered the delights of Sunday brunch. But don’t be fooled by all those milanesi tucking into their eggs Benedict. For them, ‘brunch’ means ‘lunch’. They had their caffè and brioche hours before.
- According to a recent survey, a third of Italians drink some form of tea or tisane at breakfast, rather than strong, dark, good coffee. Do not let this aberration trouble you. They too have been enrolled on this course, by presidential decree.
Breakfast at Le Sirenuse is, of course, an international affair. (If we had a dollar for every time we’ve been asked for our home-made granola recipe, we’d have at least fifteen dollars). But with all that seasonal fruit, all those delicious Neapolitan-style cakes and pastries, the locally-produced yoghurt and the focus on coffee in all its variations, la colazione delle Sirenuse is also true to the territory we live in and love. Plus, the waitstaff have all done advanced courses in newspaper folding.
Next up in Come essere italiano: How to Talk with Your Hands
Photos © Brechenmacher & Baumann
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