There is nothing I love more than a fresh bowl of hot sticky white rice in the morning. The grains melt in my mouth as I pair the rice with different side dishes such as kimchi or gaeranjim (Korean steamed egg). The egg dish is as soft as tofu; the light-yellow color brightens my mornings. Sometimes, my mother would cook me hearty stews. Eating is one of the first things I do when I wake up. Therefore, breakfast is my favorite part of the day because it fills me up and gives me the energy to carry on throughout the day. Arriving in Italy, one of my main concerns was changing my diet and eating a lighter breakfast.
Not only that, but I am not too fond of coffee. The bitterness clings onto my taste buds several hours after finishing an espresso. Coffee rushes me, while tea soothes me and helps me wind down after a long day. Since I am in Italy, I have been pushing myself to try coffees in different bars and practice my Italian. It is quite an exhilarating experience, from the scattered customers along the bar to the barista multitasking by reciting orders and serving.
My first and favorite bar is Cantiani. It is a six-minute walk from my apartment. That morning, I was walking to my very first day of school. I made my way down the street of Via Cola di Rienzo, and I followed the directions from my phone. Before I knew it, I was in front of the shop, and I went into the slightly jarred door.
To my left, there are different pastries ranging from small tarts topped with fruit to pies. I knew I had to get a cornetto, a soft, flaky, moon-shaped pastry. It is commonly known as a croissant! To my surprise, I could not spot any in the display counter. So, I chose what closely resembled a cornetto, a sfogliatella. I scan the room and ask the lady at the cash register, “Parli inglese.” She replies, “No.” In fact, nobody in the store speaks English. This was when I knew that I was in for a treat. I stand off to the side to observe other customers. I notice that customers first order and pay at the register, then place the receipt at the coffee counter. I watch an old couple lean against the counter and enjoying their company and coffee without saying much.
I point to the sfogliatella and ask, “Posso comprare questo e un cappuccino?” She gives me a receipt, and I take it over to where the two baristas are working. It was then that I saw the fresh cornetti. I kept the receipt so that I could return and buy an actual cornetto. After looking at the people lined up in front of the door, I realized that I entered the exit door; I should have come into what was labeled “entrare.”
I ate outside on a bench that was in front of the store. I am used to sitting at a table, whether it is with my family or alone, with multiple dishes presented. I held my powdery baked good in one hand and cappuccino in the other. To my surprise, it was difficult to eat because the sfogliatella was quite hard. The creamy filling had a hint of lemon. While I am not used to such light breakfasts that consist of small pastries and coffee, I reminded myself that I should cherish this while it lasts. A sweet thought paired with my sweet breakfast isn’t so bad after all!