As you can all probably tell from the somewhat lengthy gaps between posts, it takes me a bit of time to think of new and exciting things to write about. You see, when I started this blog, its original intent was to introduce our family & friends to our Italian life. I never wanted my blog to be one in which the sentiment came across as, “Look at us and our magical Italian lives,” because not all of life is magical, even when you live in Italy. And I feel as though the original intent has remained intact. Which is good because you know, writers need integrity and stuff.
But now I’ve completely digressed as to the actual intent of this post. In between the “big” posts, there are often lots of little posts I’d like to share. These posts aren’t necessarily of extreme substance or require a lengthy narrative, they’re just little snippets of life. Musings, if you will. And so this post is collection of musings.
[Things Italian Children Eat for Lunch]
Discovering what local kiddos eat for lunch is one of my favorite pastimes. While I’m sure the kids I work with think I’m crazy/irritating/suffer from memory loss for asking this same question every week, food is too entertaining for me to refrain from continuously investigating.
What I’ve discovered: kiddos here seem to have a three course lunch on a smaller scale as their mid-day meal. That is, they have all three courses at once, just in smaller portions. And, because I know you’re all as curious as I am about what it is they’re eating, here are some of the menus that have been shared with me:
- pasta with tomato sauce, chicken & carrots, fruit for dessert
- pasta with pesto, meat & potatoes, fruit for dessert
- pasta with oil & cheese, chicken & string beans, fruit for dessert
- “white” pasta (still not sure what this dish is), chickpeas & peas, fruit for dessert
- pasta with butter, chickpeas with salsa verde & carrots, fruit for dessert
- rice, lentils & tomatoes, fruit for dessert
- pasta with butter, chicken & mashed potatoes & carrots, fruit for dessert
- fish & vegetables with fruit for dessert
This culture is the first one I’ve been a part of where a child willingly chooses an orange over a cookie. It’s wonderful. And something I wish I could bring myself to do more often. What’s missing from this list are the hand gestures the kids used when they happened to have one of their favorites for lunch. Read: one of their favorite dishes is chickpeas with salsa verde. And its description includes the closed fingers kiss to the lips to emphasize its excellent-ness.
[Why Piazzas are Great]
For those who haven’t been to Europe or don’t know, the literal translation of piazza is “square.” Coincidentally, “square” is a really difficult word for Italian kiddos to pronounce. Anyways, piazzas (piazze in proper Italian) are just open spaces that are generally located on corners or in front of churches. The squares are often surrounded by a bit of green space, shops, restaurants, wine bars, fountains, or anything else you might find delightful. Oftentimes, musicians or other street performers will set up shop in a popular piazza and provide some entertainment as you stroll on past.
They also give teenagers a safe place to congregate on a Friday night, tired shoppers a place to sit and rest in between stores, and little kids a place to run. When Rich and I take adventures and are strolling though a sleepy local town, we often find families joined together in piazze with their kiddos running around while the adults catch up over a bottle of wine. Why are Italians so much happier than the rest of us? They can drink wine while their kids safely play nearby. In the afternoon sunshine. Everybody wins.
[What the Heck is a Circolo?]
For our final musing of the day, I introduce you to: the Circolo.
There is no American equivalent to an Italian Circolo. In an attempt to give you a feel for what this space is, I’ve composed a nice, organized list of facts about Circolos:
- If the US were to open a Circolo, it would be a cross between a YMCA, an Elks Club, and the local cultural club.
- Some circolos are owned by the Communists while others are owned by the church- you can tell by which initials are above the outside circolo sign.
- Inside most circolos you can find: a bar, a restaurant, ping pong tables and spaces for rent. While some circolos are quite small, others are very large. The one pictured above has a restaurant, disco-tech, movie theater, garden, baseball field, and soccer field. That’s right, I said disco-tech.
- A lot of the people who work there on the weekend are volunteers. So the restaurants, bars, and other service counters are run by people who aren’t getting paid. In order to reduce the cost of the product being delivered to locals.
- Teenagers can often be found here at night playing ping pong ball, hanging out, or going to one of the above mentioned places inside. It’s a safe space to do all of those things while allowing the young adults to get out of their houses for a bit.
- It is most definitely a place where everyone knows your name. One of my favorite scenes is sitting in a downstairs circolo, watching a man come in, and seeing the entire bar turn around to greet him.
Until the next post!