Pondering stuff that only Italians will get
I was chatting with my bella cousin Mary Ann recently. Oh, bella means beautiful, for y’all non-Italians, BT dubs.
Anyway, my cugina (come on now, you can figure that one out on your own, no?) and I were waxing nostalgic, philosophical, political and flipping hysterical as we laughed and talked and sipped our coffee.
And it was while we both enjoyed what Pop always called “una tazza de cafe” that we realized that we have some kooky coffee customs in common.
Quirky cousins. Correction, semi-pazzo (aka, crazy) Italian cousins — we are an odd lot. We have some shared traits, habits, idiosyncratic (that one you can look up), and otherwise eccentric traditions that only other Italian-Americans would understand.
Allow me to illustrate with an example. We both doctor up our daily coffee with creamers or sweeteners or other preferred add-ins. Hers includes coconut, which never occurred to me but now I’m definitely gonna try. Yum.
Her concoctions are more elaborate and typically include a press; mine are usually hand-selected K-cups ordered online and delivered far too often. You’re welcome, Amazon.
Anyhoo, whilst we both dislike black coffee from the usual suspect drive-thrus and stop-ins, we somehow both love, love, love espresso. You know, the stuff made in the teeny tiny percolator than only Italians and Italian-Americans own and keep on either the counter or stovetop. That little silver-colored contraption that can fit in a handbag but pack the punch of an eight-piece set of American luggage, a’ight? It kinda looks like the love-child of a Keurig and a teapot. I digress.
Yes, we both love that distinctive coffee with the same consistency and hue as tar, basically. The stuff so flipping strong that you slurp it carefully through miniature cups that look like they belong in a little girl’s tea party set.
It’s just one of the many things you have to be Italian or of Italian descent to appreciate.
For instance, you call it apple-picking season. We know better. When the leaves start to abandon their greenness and leap to their crumpled demise, it’s time to start canning tomatoes, yo.
Also, turkey’s for tetrazzini. First of all, as I’ve mentioned a million times before, I didn’t know turkey was the traditional Thanksgiving dinner until I was about 37. In my house, we always had homemade pasta for Thanksgiving. And Christmas. And Easter. And New Year’s Eve. And New Year’s Day. OK, you get it.
If Italians were at the first Thanksgiving, we’d have given the Native Americans a nice bolognese instead of beads.
Seriously, there are tons of fabulous foibles that only those reared in Italian households completely comprehend. They include but are absolutely not contained to the following principles:
Cleaning the house before you leave is imperative;
Food is love;
Beating your siblings routinely is OK, but someone else doing it is akin to signing their own death certificate;
ITALIAN MOTHERS SMOTHER OUR SONS. Sorry. Actually, we’re really not. Deal with it;
Visible dust on any piece of furniture, light fixture, or other household item is a mortal sin punishable by familial exile;
Everyone has a relative named one of the following:
MEN: Gino, Mario, Marco, Giuseppe ( “Joe” for you third- and fourth-generationers), Giovanni, Angelo, Mario or Luigi
WOMEN: Anna, Maria (modern variations include Mary, Marie, etc.), Gianna, Angela, Giovanna (my nonna’s name!), Sofia, Stella or Aurora.
Oh, and if you refer to us as EYE-talian? Expect a wooden spoon coming atcha, capisce?
Say ciao to proud Italian-Amerian Kimerer via www.patriciakimerer.com.