So, I’m heading down to Liguria for a few days, and while I’m there, I’m looking forward to savoring one of my favorite Italian breakfasts: cappuccino and focaccia. To clarify, yes, this involves dunking focaccia into the cappuccino—it might seem weird at first, but it tastes glorious.
In Liguria, locals refer to classic plain focaccia as focaccia della mattina (morning focaccia) because tradition calls for having it alongside the morning cappuccino in lieu of a sweet pastry and actually dunking it into the cappuccino. If you know focaccia, the ritual might seem a tad bit strange—focaccia’s usually got somewhat of a salt-dusted, extra-virgin olive oil glaze, and the oil does indeed mix with the cappuccino and form a film of sorts over the top. Yet, the trick is a quick dip (2 seconds at most)—one that’s not so hasty that the focaccia doesn’t get a proper soak but one that’s not so dangerous as soaking in the bathtub.
It’s been said that veritable experts have mastered the art of not leaving a greasy film on top, but as the focaccia is indeed coming into contact with the beverage, it’s inevitable that little oil will settle. But honestly, you hardly even notice—you already have focaccia on the palate so it all kind of morphs together when you sip the cappuccino.
What makes the pairing so exquisite is that the oil acts as a repellant of sorts against the wateriness of the cappuccino, and it “protects” the focaccia from completely absorbing the cappuccino and getting too soggy. So once you’ve bitten into it after dipping, the focaccia’s crispy consistency more or less remains intact—definitely required eating if you’re in Cinque Terre, or anywhere in Liguria for that matter.
Interestingly, the tradition isn’t well-known nationally. I remember when I posted this for the first time on my Instagram in July 2017, some Italians were irate. They thought I was an American committing a blasphemously “un-Italian” crime against Italian cuisine when in fact, coupling cappuccino and focaccia is as Italian as Margherita pizza.