Some Thoughts on Italy and Italians
This compilation was created by Dan Keller
Food DogmaButta butta mamma che sto pe` veni`!
- No cappuccino after ten o'clock nor after a meal. Cappuccinos are breakfast.
- Pizzas at midday are for schoolkids.
- Rice with meat is perfect but pasta can be with meat only if the meat is cooked in the sauce.
- The order of dishes matters. A main dish (meat, fish) instead of an antipasto is greedy.
- Never have cheese with seafood. So don't even think of putting parmigiano on your spaghetti alle vongole.
- Wine in flasks is for tourists.
- "Like elegance, garlic should be present but should not intrude."
IronyThe popular culture of Italy is imbued with a strong sense of irony. It's part of why we naive Americans -- so literal in our sensibilities -- consider Italians complex and sophisticated. Consider:
- Ennio Morricone's theme music for the movie classic Giu La Testa -- ethereal harmonies and light-hearted nonsense syllables ("Shom shom shom...") while on the screen is brutality and mayhem. Incidentally, Morricone also wrote the theme music for Il Vespaio (Hornet's Nest), a movie in which I acted in 1970.
- Mina (icon of Italian pop music) singing a faux light-hearted "Dee-dee-dee-dah" after her impassioned "Ti amo poi ti odio poi ti odio poi ti amo..." ("I love you then I hate you then I hate you then I love you...") in the mid-twentieth century classic, "Grande Grande Grande".
BusinessHere are some resources in case you're foolhardy enough to attempt to do business there:
- A glossary of financial terminology (PDF)
- My own Powerpoint presentation on the vocabulary of Italian real estate
Things Italians Don't "Get"
- Formulaic and propagandistic "news".
- Quasi-porn entertainment; misogynistic and pandering to the tawdriest of tastes, e.g. the famous Veline
- Dubbing: Many programs are imported and dubbed, always employing the same tiny cast of voices and stylized, stereotyped deliveries.
- Censorship e.g. Sabina Guzzanti whose political satire TV show was terminated after she ridiculed Berlusconi and his corrupt government. She was also sued by Berlusconi's TV empire Mediaset's lawyers. Censorship is alive and well in Italy.
Things They Get Brilliantly
- My mother knows everything important and is never wrong.
- She says that I am special, extraordinary, brilliant. Flawed, perhaps, but only in ways that increase my charm.
- If you doubt #2, see #1. That's why rules don't apply to me. Oh yes, and girlfriends who are not like my mother won't last. In other words, all of them.