Because who wouldn’t love to know more about Italians? Or is that just me. These statements are heavily based on my personal experiences with Italians, mostly from the South, some from the North, and also G, who is a very proud southern Italian who can’t lose his very thick Italian accent whichever language he speaks.
1. Hand gestures.
I’m already used to hand gestures myself but I find the Italian ones are very useful. Especially the one where you slightly swing your hand, your thumb and index finger touching, back and forth. This means a lot of different things, such as “what the hell?,” “F*$% you,” “come on,” etc but I mostly use it for “what the hell.” It’s one of the first things my Italian friends notice: “haha, you’re practically Italian.” Thank you, thank you very much.
Ah. Is there anything else more interesting than food? Ask an Italian and they’ll probably say nope. When I knew zero Italian, I would ask G what he was talking about with his friends when we were out. He would say “food.” Their conversation would go on for about 20-30 minutes and I would ask again. “Food.” An hour later. Guess what he said. Yup, food. Mostly “what did you have for lunch/dinner?” “Oh, really? How did you make it?” “Hmm, I make it this way.” “Oh my mother does it like you but it’s still a bit different. Here’s how SHE does it…” You get the idea.
It’s a toss between pasta and pizza, but it’s true. Italian cannot live without pasta and they can eat it literally every single day. I thought this was impossible, but after spending a lot of time with the husband and also in Italy, I find this quite doable. It’s only because there are so many different type of pasta and sauces. You could eat it for three months and you’ll probably be able to eat a different one every single day.
G drinks about 9-10 espressos per day. He’s a bit crazy but an average Italian does drink a lot of espressos. One or two cups after a meal is a must, mornings with milk is a necessity and just about anywhere there’s a reason for espresso. But good espresso. For the very picky, Nespresso capsules may not do the trick, but good, good espresso is sometimes hard to find outside of Italy. The Bialetti is the only right way, according to some Italians, including G.
This is mostly for the Italian in the house but only because he’s from the South where babies practically start eating fish before they can even say “mommy.” The fresher the better, of course, but I learned this the hard way. It was when we were just married and we went to this nice restaurant and ordered the seafood platter. The raw seafood platter. I like sushi and I’m good with sashimi, but not only were the shells still attached to the mussels (or is it the other way around), there were still funky seaweed attached to the shell, making it all that more fresh and authentic. I thought I took a bite of seawater. No thanks. But for G and a lot of other Southern Italians? Heaven on earth. Yikes.
Like any country really, southern Italians are very different from northern Italians. The way they talk, the overall culture, food culture, perspective on various subjects are all so different, they might as well be from different countries. But then, this is quite obvious considering the history and also the shape of the country. It’s just so easy to categorize Italians, or any nationality, as one thing, and that sometimes can be straight up wrong.
Sorry, but I personally think Germans are better drivers. (This is entirely my opinion.) While Italians are great in surviving various driving situations, narrow roads, jammed roads, awkwardly shaped roads etc, Germans drive like they’re on butter. I do have to say Italians seems to have more fun when driving though. (Have you tried driving in Italy? Don’t do it. Unless you’re Italian.)
I’ve talked so much about gelato I don’t think there’s anything left to talk about. I talked about how it’s my favorite food, how it’s much lighter than ice cream, the city of Bologna where they have a gelato university and just my overall praise about the man-made heaven on a cone.
There’s no rule on how to eat pizza. Americans eat it with their hands but Europeans and Italians don’t, some may argue, but this isn’t true. Yes, a lot more Italians than you think use their knives and forks, but some of them even start like that and end up finishing off with their hands. But then there is also a reason why they have no choice. Everyone orders their own pizza and more often than not, the pizzas are not sliced in any way. So you have to use a knife and fork to cut them into slices.
This is also completely based on my experience with G. When he asked me if I could swim, I said, of course. I can do everything except the butterfly (I was scared of the teacher at the time.) When I asked if he could, he said yes, of course. I’m from the sea. Swimming in G’s terms mean going from point A to point B without drowning. It also included just floating in the water, how deep it may be. For me, it means I can go from point A to B, but with proper swimming techniques. And no, I can’t float in water without touching the bottom. Very simple but very different perspectives.
All photos by rachelsanghee.