Saturday, December 27, 2008

Your father-in-law could be a nutty liberal if... (Hint No. 15)

...he buys you a hand-made crèche from Naples featuring an Obama wise man.

What Italians eat for Christmas

A proper Italian Christmas meal varies by region. Seeing as we were in Le Marche for the 24th, we decided on a brodetto, a thick fish stew that contains (usually) shrimp, squid, coda di rospo (monkfish -- pictured above), sgombro (mackerel), gallinella (Gurnard) and, if you can find it, scorfano. We couldn't find the scorfano, but there were still cheers all around.

Here's our version:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wrong number

At least once a week, we get a wayward caller dialing our apartment. For all I know it may be the same wayward caller (here he is again, in fact, twice now in the last three minutes.... Ok, fatto. He'll call back no doubt.)

I realize the etiquette for handling mis-dialed calls varies greatly by country, but I cannot quite get my head around how it works here in Rome. For example, in the US, the person who incorrectly rings is usually the apologetic one. In the US, once you've mis-dialled and disturbed someone else it's not customary to ask any more questions. Just apologize, hang up and go about your business. Often the one on the receiving end makes it painless. They hang up before you have a chance to apologize. Perfect in my book.

In the UK, I found, whenever I mis-dialled it was the person on the other end who was apologetic. Terribly apologetic. And they would rarely hang up first. Perhaps hearing my American accent they would linger on the phone thinking I was in need of help, some direction maybe. But what? It was always me who would mutter an apology and hang up on them.

Here in Rome, it's completely different yet again. Whenever I pick up the phone and respond "pronto" (I love how the national phone greeting here is "I'm ready"), I get a terse "Chi e'?" snapping back at me. They are speaking formally but the tone is anything but. Here's how it plays out from there:
Me: "Chi e' Lei?" Who are You? (formal)
Caller: Giovanni?!?
Me: No, mi dispiace, pero Lei ha sbagliato. No, I'm sorry (I can probably drop the "I'm sorry" part but after four years of misdialed phone calls in London it's now permanently wired into my synapses). You have erred.
Caller: CHI E' LEI?
Me: Lei ha...
Me: (cue: rolling my eyes)
Caller: (rattles off a sequence of numbers -- either the last four numbers or the last seven numbers)
Me: No, Lei ha sbagliato. No, you (formal) have erred.
Caller: oh. (click)

Two minutes later he/she rings back.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

White men can't...

...make a proper sugo di cinghiale. Or can they? Lo chef famosissimo inglese Jamie Oliver heads to Le Marche (I believe this was aired in the UK at the end of the summer) and enters a wild boar pasta contest. Can he impress the townfolk?


And, a note to Jamie Oliver, if he happens to be poking his head around this blog. If you are back in Le Marche in mid-May, I hereby invite you to Amandola for the annual "pizza festa" competition. The participants are hardcore, but there's plenty of wine and sunshine.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

She comes in colors in the air

And just hours before I snapped this photo I was getting some playful grief from Xtina about rainbows. Evidently, the sister's boyfriend, maybe the most conscientious Italian on the planet, constructed a rainbow for the sister's birthday. "Now, whenever she enters the room," Xtina informed me, "she's greeted by a rainbow... Where's my rainbow?"

Presenting... your rainbow, baby.