Children. Breakfast. Italy.

Nonna's Easter Bread Recipe

While your children may think it’s hilarious that you are bringing them to a bar, ( in the morning no less,)  they will soon be dismayed to find that their usual breakfast of choice is unavailable.

My suggestion for parents is this; get them a hot chocolate and a cornetto.  The hot chocolate is thick and creamy and more substantial than we make here in the states.  (Be prepared for a scalding hot container arriving at the table with your squirmy little ones.)   The cornetto will work because there is nothing “weird” in it.  It is basically a horn shaped roll.  Sometimes they are served with confectionary sugar on them.  Most people put Nutella or jam on them. Whatever they choose, kids usually will eat these without a fight.  There’s nothing worse than them picking out a pastry only to discover what they thought was chocolate is in fact, figs.   The secret is you need to get them to eat some protein and fat.  Museums are opening and lunch is a long way off.  Forget all normal dietary rules, haven’t you heard that whatever you feed your kids on vacation doesn’t count?

Fill them up at breakfast as much as you can because most restaurants will not open for lunch until later in the day.  It’s unlike our American culture that you can run in and out and grab something quick to eat.  While they do have McDonald’s, it’s not the same.IMG_4084

Traveling with children can be a challenge on a good day.  Couple it with jet lag and not eating well and you are sure to have it all…Screaming.  Tantrums.  Feet stomping.  Tears.

…and I’m just talking about the parents.

Choose a bar that offers a sit down service.  While it is more expensive, it may be easier for you to manage the children, the food and the check all at once.  This is the time when pick pockets will swoop in.  There is nothing like a frustrated, distracted parent to rob.  Talk about kicking someone when they’re down.

So remember.  “Vorrei cioccolata caldo e cornetti per tutti.”

I would like hot chocolate and cornettos for everyone.

Get one for yourself too.  There really is nothing like their hot chocolate.  It’s more like drinking warm pudding with cream in it.  Delicioso!

Savor the moment.  You’re having breakfast in Italy with your children.  It’s a memory you will all carry forever.

The Bar

The author with her dear cousin

The author with her dear cousin and great uncle at Sant’Eustachio Il Caffe’ (photo taken by her husband)

…So in my post The Italian Breakfast, I was telling you about Il Bar.  Not an establishment of ill repute or a public house, a bar in Italy is where coffee and treats are served.  THIS is where the locals go to eat.  In fact, if you see a sign that says “American Breakfast” you can be sure no locals will be there.

“American Breakfast” as it is called on the sign is designed to lure you in with promises of what they think Americans eat each morning.  Eggs.  Bacon.  Toast.  Cafe Americano.  (Italians think this coffee is watered down and silly.  Why drink all that liquid when you can have an espresso for the same caffeine hit?)  The problem with this breakfast is that, for me at least, I don’t eat that.  Cereal and milk is difficult to find.

This is where you have to open your culinary horizons. You are better off going to one of the said “bars” and watching for a moment what the locals do.  They already know by your bone structure that you are American, so don’t get worried.  They will make you feel welcome, and they will love that you are honoring their local customs.  You can point and smile and they are so helpful!

There are lots of famous ones throughout La Citta Eterna, but there are a couple you might want to go to just to steep yourself in history, culture and coffee.  One is Sant’Eustachio Il Caffe’, just off via Monetrone near the Piazza Rotondo.  The other one is the oldest caffe in Rome, Antico Caffe’ Greco on the world famous via Condotti.  The photographs alone are worth the trip.

The oldest caffe' in Rome.

The oldest caffe’ in Rome. (Photo by Michael Sirni)

You order your espresso then point to what you would like in the displays.  They put it all on a plate, much like a cafeteria with “il conto” (the bill.)  You pay and then stand and eat it at the bar like the locals.  Espresso is literally a shot.  Add sugar and gulp.  It’s over.  While Americans may nurse the same foam cup of coffee all day long, Italians finish it all in a sip.  (They do go back and have them all day, so don’t think they have taken any kind of higher ground….no coffee pun intended.)

If you sit down, there are additional charges, much like a tip.  It is called “coperto” which is an umbrella term for bread, use of forks, table services, etc. If you want to appear really in the know, watch someone order ahead of you.  Smile at the counter worker, nod your head to the said person ahead of you and say, “lo stesso.” This means, loosely translated, “I’ll have the same thing.” Just hope they didn’t order something you’re allergic to…. 🙂