To some is revealed the secret truth, to others is revealed the utterly obvious. I am in the latter camp. Somehow I managed to get through three decades of life without noticing that cappuccinos - those caffeinated concoctions covered with froth and chocolate - must have something to do with Capuchin monks.
They do. That light, creamy brown of a well-stirred cappuccino is the same as the light creamy brown of a well-hooded Capuchin's. Hence the name of the coffee.
Capuchin itself is merely the diminutive of the Italian capuccio, which means hood. The Capuchins originally wore hoods to hide from the Pope; and by the time the Pope got bored and stopped searching for them, the monks had grown too attached to their little hoods to let them go. It had become, so to speak, a habit.
Monks used to be the butt and target of medieval satire. People would write poems about them. You get some idea of their reputation from the fact that the first definite record of the word fuck comes from a fourteenth century poem about East-Anglian monks.
Non sunt in celi
quia fuccant uuiuys of heli
Which is a Latin-English mish-mash meaning:
They are not in heaven
Who fuck the wives of Ely
Monks also wore brown and black. They were therefore sometimes compared to apes. And that is probably* where we get the word monkey. So what do you call a monkey that looks like it's wearing a hood?
That's right, dear reader, that's right. You call him a capuchin monkey.
Capuchin crypt in Rome, which is decorated entirely with the bones of dead monks [see picture]. It is without doubt the most screwed-up place I have ever been to, with the possible exception of Stranraer.
*The OED says this is the most likely derivation.