Cultural Cocktail Hour

St. Francis and the Cappuccino

Photography and text © 2013 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

Okay, so this photo isn’t a cappuccino. But an espresso macchiato from Badia a Coltibuono, Gaiole In Chianti (where I had the most scrumptious Aubergine Terrine on the planet, but I digress...)

After years of living as a fashionista playboy, St. Francis took a vow of poverty. Of celibacy. Of Abstinence. He even poured ashes on his food so as not to taste its flavor.

But did you know that the Franciscan saint unwittingly influenced the frothy concoction imbibed by so many coffee lovers today?

The Capuchin order of friars emerged in the 16th century as a reformist group devoted to following the original ideals of Saint Francis. The Capuchin hood, or Cappuccino, symbolized this spartan order of hermits.

Legend has it that the coffee derives its name from the rich brown color of their hoods (although some will argue that the foam itself forms a hood-like peak).  

In fact, this year, Capuchin monks in Poland decided to use the famous drink named after their order for the greater good. “Cappuccinos for Africa” raised money for children in Chad and the Central African Republic.

So next time you have a Cappuccino, raise your cup to Saint Francis.

(And please don’t tell him about that delectable eggplant terrine, thanks!)

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