ard as it is for some to imagine, we Italians are not a breakfast people. We’re a population of delicate constitutions. The smell of anything fried before 11 a.m. makes us dizzy. Early in the day, anything solid, unless it’s small pastry or a couple of cookies, sits like concrete in our feeble stomach.
Why? Because we happen to have some of best dinner food on the planet, not to mention some of best lunch food, and, of course, some of the best wines.
So, in the morning we’re just not hungry, okay?
I’m Italian but I’ve tried all kind of breakfasts. I’ve had tiny sausages with miso soup in Tokyo, banana sandwiches with Africafè in Tanzania, refried beans somewhere on the way to a jungle in Guatemala, and the softest omelet of my life in Las Vegas.
But if you ask me my favorite morning food, the one that makes the most of ambiance, flavor, texture and temperature — the essential factors of a perfect culinary experience — my answer is a Sicilian breakfast.
Sicilians, you see, have frozen coffee with whipped cream. It’s habit you can fathom only if you’ve been fortunate enough to spend time on the island at the right time, which happens to be the hottest time of year.
Now then, this is how the stages of a Sicilian breakfast play out (with appropriate commentary):
- You’re on vacation near the beach (of course). There’s no need to be dynamic. Who needs energy? Drag yourself out of your bed, preferably late.
- When you do get up, you put on swimming attire that’s as skimpy as your self-esteem allows. Also put on dark sunglasses, like any self-respecting Italian.
- Walk (as slowly as possible) to a beachside bar.
- Once there, order a granita di caffe con panna e briosce. This is a three-quarters-full glass with impossibly creamy espresso sorbet topped with a mound of impossibly thick whipped cream. It comes with feather-light brioche bread.
- Stir the cream into the sorbet (slowly), and then dunk the brioche in the granita.
- Next, savor the intensely cold and soft deliciousness. Relax. Sit back. Stay skimpy.
- Repeat this essential cycle of relaxing and brioche dunking until lunch, after which you can go for a swim and, more importantly, plan the next meal.
- Oh, and while you’re in Sicily, remember a fundamental fact: bacon does not exist.
Frozen cappuccino may be enjoyed at any time of the day, especially as a hot weather antidote. The brioche is optional but highly recommended. As for the skimpy swimwear, that’s up to you — so long as you spend at least half the morning in bed deciding.