Monday, 27 May 2013

Can you really say that?!

Hi folks!

I hope the month of May is bringing you everything you wanted and more. Unfortunately, May has brought a lot of rubbish weather to the south of Italy, and last night, it seemed like we had gone back to February. Today, we seem to be once again safely located in May. Here's hoping it continues because this Brit definitely doesn't want to have to retrieve her winter coat from the back of the wardrobe again!!

Today's post is one that I've been putting together for a while. As you all probably know, southern Italians are very  warm, friendly people, who are often prone to outbursts of intense emotion and major hand gesturing. These qualities are all good. And often funny. But southern Italians do seem to have another interesting quality: they say what they think. Now, everybody says honesty is the best policy and I agree, but in some particular situations, is the truth really the best thing to say?!

1. How old are you?
Now, they don't always come right out with it. Often, you'll hear, 'what year were you born?', which seems slightly less direct but let's face it, it's the same question in disguise. Funnily enough, men seem to ask this question much more frequently than women.

2. Is that a cold sore on your face?
No, it's just a painful, red lip blister that I am trying desperately to forget about. Thanks for reminding me though! I have to add however, that anyone who has pointed this out to me has gone on to describe their bad cold sore experiences, and has offered rather large amounts of sympathy. So I guess it's OK. Sort of. They will also point out scratches, spots or any other facial 'disturbances' you may have.

3. I liked the other colour better.
Yes, I'm talking about hair colour; colour that you can't change so easily. A conversation I had with a student regarding my recent hair colour change (to blonde) went something like this:

 Amy, but what has happened to your hair?
Well, I fancied a change really! What do you think?
Yes...well....I don't know. I think you'd look better with black hair.
Black? No, I don't think that'd suit me really.
I do. Did you know that southern Italian women all have dark hair, so..
Yes but I'm not Italian.
The most beautiful women have dark hair, not blonde...

4. Have you lost/put on weight?
Now this one is definitely a double edged sword. Women like to hear that they are looking trimmer, but the other thing? Now we don't really mention that do we. Oh, wait, in Italy we do! The first time this was said to me I have to say I was a little offended, but I have come to realise that a) comments like these can also be positive, in that you look 'healthy' (yes, I'm still a bit sceptical about that one), and b) Italians simply speak their mind. I was actually asked the other day how much I weighed. 

5. Sorry I'm late, I was having a pedicure. 
Told to me by a man. Enough said.

6. Are you having women's problems?
Again, asked by a man.

7. How much do you earn?
Granted, I don't hear this very often at all, but I still get somewhat prickly when confronted with it. How do you answer? With appropriate adverbs, a ball park figure or even the actual amount? I think I changed the subject. And definitely didn't reciprocate the question. (Even though I was curious...ahem!)

So, what can we conclude from all of this? Firstly, Italians are very different from Brits (you think?!). Our ideas of what courtesy and politeness mean are oh-so-different, therefore making a comparison rather tricky. What I can say though, is despite the occasional offense taken from certain questions, or the inability to deal with the 'too much information!' factor, I kind of respect their honesty. Sometimes it's just exhausting beating around the bush so much, as we Brits often do. If you've got something to say, why not just say it? I like the fact that I have acquired a thicker skin since coming here. And I don't worry so much about offending people either; they just take things with a pinch of salt. And I quite like that mentality.

Although I definitely draw the line at the following, said to me not long ago by a certain student of mine: 'What's wrong with your skin? It looks ruined'. Now that, my friends, is not acceptable! ;)

Happy truth telling! :D

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Sweet treats and naughty pets...

Hi folks!

It's been a little while since I posted a hunger-inducing pic of some sweet treats. Actually that's not true at all; my most recent post definitely included some cake photos. Several of them. And to be honest that's probably the topic I blog about most...Anyway, who cares, everyone loves dolce! So here's a snapshot of my most recent indulgence, provided by my boyfriend's zia, who happens to be UNBELIEVABLY good at making dolce. And antipasto. And pasta. And...well, you get the picture...

Coconut cake, some yummy fruity thing and of course, tiramisu...
Moving away from sugary treats, I also have a little terrapin update. Remember Tim and Jennifer? My cheeky little pet terrapins? Well, one of them recently made a bit for freedom. As they were temporarily and 'safely' (ahem) housed in a slightly smaller container as I cleaned out their regular home, a certain male terrapin somehow made his way out of the container and had a wander around the dining room. When I returned, he was there to greet me. To say I was surprised is an understatement. I may have also said the following:

TIM!! What on earth are you doing on the floor?! 

Yes, I do talk to my terrapins. Occasionally. Only when they've behaved badly. Ahem. I concluded that he must have clambered on top of Jennifer (again, ahem) and toppled his way over the side of the small container. Maybe he and Jennifer had had a falling out. Or maybe he just wanted to have a mooch around. I guess we'll never know...

That's all for now, have a great day! :D

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Food glorious food...

I'm sure you're all aware of my 'Italian family'. You know, the ones who, if they had their way, would continuously feed me 24/7 and even then would declare that I'd 'barely eaten a thing'? Yes, I'm talking about THAT amazing family.

Well, I recently had another encounter with the whole clan, as it was my boyfriend's nephew's third birthday. So naturally, this called for balloons, lots of family photos and of course, FOOD. Mountains of the stuff. The 'first course' was literally a table full of carbs. There was no second course, as this was an evening meal, and one always eats 'lighter' at dinnertime. Ha! We then had some of the most delicious strawberries I think I have ever eaten, followed by what can only be described as an ONSLAUGHT of desserts. I felt like I was putting on the kilos just by LOOKING at the table of goodies. Tiramisu, pear and ricotta tart, a big green sugary birthday cake...oh my. All homemade, and all INCREDIBLE. Needless to say, once I had been 'forced' (ahem) to sample these sweet delights, I may have been shaking ever so slightly from a sugar overdose. I may have also literally grabbed hold of my boyfriend's sister-in-law and, with moist eyes, told her that she had made me so incredibly happy. And because this kind of food-induced emotion is not uncommon in these parts of Italy, she didn't think I was weird. At least, I hope not...

Thursday, 2 May 2013

May 1st Celebrations

There are lots of reasons why I love Italy. Most of them are, of course, dolce based reasons. But another reason why I love Italy, is that fact that public holidays can happen on a Wednesday, so you get a nice (often much needed) day off in the middle of the week. Result! So, as yesterday happened to be May 1st, this meant no work... and all play!

The southern Italians definition of play almost always involves food. So, we packed a car full of meat, bread and beer, and headed for the beach. What ensued over the next 6 or 7 hours was: 17 Italians and and English girl munching their way through burgers, sausages and torcinelli ('sausages' made of innards...they're definitely an acquired taste!), all washed down with beer and a whole lot of conversation and shenanigans. Needless to say it was a thoroughly enjoyable day, aside from the fact that I got sun burnt on one (yes,just one) shoulder! It was so enjoyable in fact, that I totally forgot to take any photos. Woops! So I will leave you with the following images, which pretty much demonstrate how I would sum up the day:

OK, so the barbecue wasn't exactly set up like this, but I swear the amount of meat was the same!

There was definitely a LOT of sitting around doing nothing. It was AWESOME.

Clearly a necessity for any Italian barbecue.

Hope you all had a great May 1st! :D