The Coffee And Bread Breakfast That Embodies The True Taste Of Italy

Focaccia and cappuccino
Focaccia and cappuccino - Natali22206/Shutterstock

Breakfast in Italy traditionally consists of not much more than a quick coffee, either straight espresso or cappuccino, and a pastry of some sort. The bread and coffee combo is interpreted in various ways throughout Italy, but there is only one that can be said to embody the true taste of the country. That combo is focaccia and cappuccino.

Originating from that definitive focaccia-loving city of Genoa, the coming together of focaccia and cappuccino may not seem so unusual to outsiders. That is until you learn that you're supposed to dip your focaccia into your coffee. If you thought that honor was reserved only for sweet pastries, think again. The bitterness of the coffee combined with the fat and saltiness of the savory focaccia creates an altogether special breakfast experience, especially if the cappuccino is sweetened with sugar. It is difficult to explain the flavor without trying it for yourself, just know that the combination is often described as nothing short of mind-blowing.

As with other things in Italy, there are specific rules that need to be followed in order to do focaccia and cappuccino correctly. They are informal, unwritten rules, which are nevertheless taken extremely seriously. And the biggest rule of all is the type of focaccia you use. Nothing less than classic, focaccia alla Genovese will do.

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How To Properly Dip Your Focaccia

Genoese focaccia
Genoese focaccia - Francesca 2011/Shutterstock

Yes, there is a proper way to go about dipping your savory focaccia bread into a cappuccino. Everything starts, naturally, with the focaccia. Now, the Ligurian region of Italy is home to various kinds of focaccia. However, the kind most associated with this tradition is the focaccia alla Genovese. Characterized by its thinness, oily pockets, crispy golden brown exterior, and fluffy, it is the ultimate, and some consider the only, focaccia for the job.

Once you have your focaccia, it comes time to dip it into your cappuccino. This is sort of a right of passage in Genoa, as youngsters start out dipping focaccia in steamed milk and graduate to cappuccino once they're teenagers. The dip is quick. Unlike dipping a biscotti, where you are intentionally softening the biscuit, the focaccia is already rather soft. Therefore, it should not be in the coffee long enough to make it soggy or for the oil of the bread to leach into the coffee. A quick dip should more than suffice to get the flavor you're looking for.

If you have an espresso machine with a steam wand and a penchant for baking, you can easily make this classic Italian breakfast in the comfort of your own home. There are a few places in the U.S. where you can find this breakfast, but you're going to have to travel to Genoa for the truly authentic experience.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.