I once met an Italian who didn't drink coffee. He made light of the fact but you could see he was tired of having to explain his disability every time some new acquaintance uttered the standard Italian greeting: "Prendiamo un caffe?" ("Fancy a coffee?"). His breezy but faintly passive-aggressive manner concealed, I suspect, deep pools of self-doubt and underground lakes of wounded masculine pride. Vegetarians develop the same nonchalant, yet haunted, look when travelling in places such as Mongolia, where meat comes with a side-dish of meat. But this Italian guy wasn't a visitor, he was local. He was the Mongolian vegetarian.