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Jul 20, 2006 09:06 PM

Cappuccino after noon - faux pas in US?

I guess this is a question about dining etiquette changing with transplantation. Obviously, in Italy, it is a huge faux pas to have a cappuccino after a certain hour (I forget the exact time) in the morning.

In the US, it appears to be extremely common, at nice restaurants of all stripes, and in Italian ones (Caffe Vittoria in Boston comes to mind).

So my question is, is it still a faux pas at all, or is it just okay to break the rule?

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  1. If you are Amanda Hesser, it probably is not ok.

    Otherwise, it's fine.

    [Note: Above I am referring to Amanda Hesser's book "Cooking for Mr. Latte." Mr. Latte is the name she gave to her boyfriend (now husband) because he liked to have lattes in the afternoon.]

    1 Reply
    1. re: Darren72

      I believe it was even worse than this: He ordered a latte after dinner at a fine restaurant. In the U.S., lattes and cappucinos in the afternoon are the norm. C'mon, this is the eat-anything-anytime culture. That said, if you are hanging out with Italians the afternoon beverage is strictly espresso.

    2. It may be a faux pas in some circles, but most people even in Italy accept that Americans do strange things.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cheryl_h

        Like pair meatballs with pasta. :)

      2. It's acceptable even at the coffee houses of Boston's North End... Just don't do it in Italy and expect that you won't get snickered at behind your back. Ditto for asking for butter for your bread.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Karl S

          interesting to note about the butter....30 years ago in Tangiers at an Italian resto a waiter looked cross-eyed at us when we requested butter as well...."what, are you nuts..../"

          1. re: toodie jane

            it that because you should use olive oil instead of butter? or because bread should be plain?

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                Which in my opinion is ridiculous, and surprised me when I was there. The bread in Italy is made without salt, and I just don't see the point of plain unsalted bread as a vehicle for nothing :-/

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath


                  you are supposed to use bread in an italian meal as an accompaniment for its texture, weight, and blandness: with salad or fish b/c of the acidity and lightness of these dishes, with soup b/c of the liquid aspect, etc. Adding salt would change the flavor of what you're eating.

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    In general you're right, fara, but the thing is that you've already changed the taste... bread is not tasteless.

            1. Funny somewhat relevant thing that happened to me the other day - I went out with a french acquaintance of mine who is visiting nyc for a month. We went to Le pain quotidien for lunch. I ordered an iced cappucino and she thought i was crazy. She could not believe that people actually enjoy iced coffee and cappucinos. She tried and iced cappuciino and hated it. she went on a rant how in france there is no such thing as iced coffee and cappucino. These drinks are only to be served hot.
              I was recenly in italy and I ordered cappucinos at all hours. I was never aware that this was an issue.

              6 Replies
              1. re: jordana

                Yes, well, the French fall firmly on the prescriptive side of the cuisine equation, the mother sauces and all that. When it's 90 F at 8:30 AM, the idea of hot coffee loses its appeal quickly.

                British people had a hard time with iced tea for a long time.

                1. re: jordana

                  In the U.S., it is okay to order cappucino or latte whenever you like, even though in italy it is frowned upon. however, as a person who's done the barista thing before, i do think that in general americans could do a better job of understanding what it is that they like and figuring out how to order that. the iced cappucino is a perfect example - what is that?
                  a cappucino is espresso with steamed frothed milk. so, do you enjoy the texture of milk which has been steamed and then poured over ice for some reason? or do you prefer espresso which is poured over ice with less milk than a latte? or what? i always hated it when people tried to order this drink, because it makes no sense. i think that generally speaking, in the US, the coffee / espresso is so much more sweetened and lightened and mixed with hazelnut syrup and what have you, it often bears little resemblance to what you would find in italy. and that's fine. americans are well versed in making the culinary inventions of other cultures their own.

                  1. re: pigtails

                    As a former barista myself, I always order my small latte no-foam (why on EARTH are coffee drinks so enormous here??) and a cup of ice. Cooled steamed milk tastes sweeter than milk straight out of a jug, which is why I don't just ask for espresso with milk.

                  2. re: jordana

                    When I was in Paris, the waiters looked very confused when I ordered iced coffee. They just did not get it. Finally, they brought a hot, steaming cup of coffee with a glass of ice next to it. Oh well, c'est la vie. When in France....

                    1. re: gloriousfood

                      I have to believe the vietnamese places in Paris serve iced coffee - so good!

                      1. re: gloriousfood

                        That's exactly how iced coffee is served in Spain. It's quite popular in the summer. It's served that way so that you can mix the sugar in before it is iced. Now if you order an iced cafe con leche people WILL look at you funny.

                    2. In America, there are no rules. Drink as you like. :)