Dylan Jones: 'Ordering a cappuccino after dinner is fundamentally wrong'

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The Independent Online

I can cope when people mispronounce "clientele" (I'm always forgetting to say Ayn Rand properly, and there are still some Asian dishes I simply point to on the menu). I couldn't give a fig when people drink red wine with fish (I drink red wine with everything). And I'm also not that bothered when some people sport Hollywood Black Tie when they're not supposed to (for a certain generation, the bow tie is as much of a throwback as the bowler hat or the three-piece suite). Get me at a weak moment – tip: usually after I've just watched a Sandra Bullock movie – and I'll even forgive those poor souls who still think Sandinista! is the Clash's finest hour (although the last time I listened to it, it seemed to last a lot longer than 60 minutes – in fact, I'd wager a small per diem that it's probably still playing).

However – and this is a pretty big however – I'm still having a problem with those among us who insist on ordering a cappuccino after lunch. Or, indeed, after noon. And to order one after dinner is not so much social death (I don't think we should care about that any more, especially as we don't live in Paris or New York) as fundamentally wrong. Like going to work without your trousers. Or eating with your mouth full. Or forgetting to flush the loo (we obviously still can't say "toilet").

Because drinking cappuccino after a certain time of the day (breakfast) is just wrong. And not just in Italy, either. You simply shouldn't have that amount of milk in your stomach after lunch in the same way you really shouldn't drink orange juice in the evening. Which is why in most cafés in Italy you'll get a glass of cold water at the same time to dilute the milk in the stomach. Any coffee drunk after this time should be espresso-based and knocked back standing up at the bar. It's got nothing to do with style, but a lot to do with your digestive system. And the fact that nobody wants to be laughed at by an Italian.

Oh, while we're at it, should people wear embroidered slippers? Probably not, but then seeing as I do, I suppose I don't care about that either.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

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