Saturday, July 22, 2006

Coffee-Drinking Monkeys

Cappuccino is espresso coffee mixed or topped with steamed milk or cream. In Italy, it is considered a breakfast drink.

It takes its name from the color of a friar’s habit, specifically, a Capuchin friar. The cappuccio was the hood attached to the garment. In English, it is spelled capuche.

The patron of the order was St. Francis of Assisi, though Capuchins have long been an autonomous branch of the Franciscan Order. Their habit, floor length and chestnut in color, reflects the fact that St. Francis ordered his monks to wear undyed wool. With age, it turned the color of earth.

Before the variant that designates a type of coffee drink, it was used for the name of a monkey indigenous to Central and South America. The Capuchin monkey has a hoodlike tuft of hair on its head, so a reference to the cappuccio was entirely natural.

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