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Italians Do it Better

Italians Do it Better

I grew up surrounded by Italian people.  If you drove through my hometown it basically went like this; Dunkin Donuts, pizza, tanning salon, nail salon, Dunkin Donuts, pizza, tanning salon, nail salon, etc. etc. 

There were a lot of inappropriate lions at the end of driveways and many of my classmates spoke fluent Italian at home.  I’m not kidding when I tell you that, for example, these lions….

Would be placed in front of a house like this:

I am 1/2 Italian and 1/2 Irish, but really just sooo Italian that people don’t even believe me when I tell them I’m Irish – which is fine by me.  My husband is also half and half – but much more Irish. 

So what do you know – we have one fair-skinned child that says he can’t eat pepperoni because it “spices up his mouth,” and one that was born with a moustache and would eat pepperoni for breakfast if we let him.  (Is it weird that I measure things in pepperoni?)

I went to school in NY and my college roommate was so Italian she made me look like Howdy Doody - and even though my husband acts Irish – he at least has a nice Italian last name – so I think I must have thought there would be Italian people everywhere I went.  Oh how wrong I was…..

Now here I am, a Connecticut housewife in this town, a land of Lily Pulitzer-wearing, lacrosse playing, no make-up wearing, pasty-skinned, no hair-product using, do you see where this is going??

NO ITALIAN PEOPLE.

I mean none.

There are approximately 65,000 people in this town and do you know how many tanning salons there are?

ZERO.

Do you know how many lions there are?

ZERO.

There are two good pizza places out of 17 to choose from, and I have witnessed first hand on two separate occasions, people serving PIZZA HUT (gasp) to people at a birthday party.  Like it’s acceptable food! Like we don’t live in the Tri-State area! Like we live in Wisconsin and we have to eat cardboard instead of real food!!

WTF? This crust is bigger than my house. Madonna could sustain Malawi with just this one piece of crust.......and what looks like some craisins, purple onions and one mushroom???

Three times, making small talk about what to make for dinner with random moms, I mentioned frying up cutlets and they said “What are cutlets?”

INSERT LOUD RECORD SCREECH HERE

Really?

Cutlets are what we make when we don’t feel like being creative.  What you make when you are too tired to do anything but dip chicken in egg and breadcrumbs and throw it in a frying pan.  Is it really possible that you don’t know what that is? If so – I don’t want to be your friend.

Food is a very important part of our life.  It’s all we talk about, it’s all we think about.  It’s what we look forward to, it’s why we love holidays, it’s how we figure out how much to give you at your wedding.

I try to stress the importance of good food to my kids.  I try to point out foods that are unacceptable, and make them try almost everything.  Before our “Sopranos-style” Sunday dinners with friends and cousins - they will help my husband make the meatballs and enjoy heaping piles of macaroni with sausage and tons of grated cheese.

When my Irish child went to kindergarten he was allowed to buy pizza on Fridays.  The second Friday – he came home starving.

“It wasn’t pizza today – it was pizza dippers.” he said with disgust.

“So what – it’s a breadstick and you dip it in sauce…that’s good,” I said.

“Yeah – but I couldn’t eat the sauce – because Italian people didn’t make it,” he said matter-of-factly.

I was so proud. My hard work in the kitchen was paying off!

But we hit a small snag last week when he told me that he was in love with a girl in his class (we will call her Irish McIrish.) 

“Michael – you don’t even know what “in love” means – it means that you love her so much that you want to marry her…”

He pondered this and said, “Well I would kiss her hand and I would marry her.”

“Well, that’s fine – but just a heads up – she’s Irish.”

“So what? I don’t care!” he said.

“Well you will care when it’s dinnertime,” I said, “But that’s ok – I will bring you dinner every night,” I joked.

He considered this quietly.  He sat straight up suddenly.

“No wait Mom! I have a great idea!  I’m Italian! I can cook the dinners!!”

OMG – How proud could an Italian mom be of her first-born son?

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44 responses »

  1. Okay, first things first. I voted back. Secondly…are you from my hometown? Are we related? I lived in Westchester and moved to Greenwich…I grew up surrounded by plastic-coated furniture, peeing baby fountains and tanning salons. I freakin’ love this post. I’ll admit it, I’m Irish McIrish too, but thankfully grew up under the wing of my beloved Italian uncle, so I escaped the horrible kitchen skills thing. I don’t boil anything but pasta and my kids know a good sauce when they have one. My guys passes on the school pie too. We live in Maine now…need I say more? My husband hails from the CT people. I have a sister-in-law from hell living right there in Darien. I hope you don’t know her.

    Reply
  2. I’m Irish as well, and moved to a town that was 95% Italian in 7th grade. I quickly realized that if there was any hope of fitting in, (and hopefully getting a boyfriend), I had a lot of work to do. By the time I was 15, was helping peel and boil bushels of tomatos for days, in order to can enough puree that would supply the family with sauce until the next year. We also made sausage to be dried in the cellar, along with strings of hot peppers. For the holidays, I learned how to make homemade ravioli, gnocchi and pizzelles. All of this came in handy years later when my future mother in law was horrified that her favorite son was marrying an Irish girl.

    We were very spoiled in that town. Even the school “lunch ladies” (who were all Italian) felt the sauce the cafeteria offered was unacceptable, so they took it upon themselves to make it themselves.

    So, don’t lose hope, keep up the good work and I’m sure the boys will be just fine…

    P.S. Love the post!

    Reply
  3. Oh my. Well, I grew up in West-chest-a; and I still live in the SAME town that I grew up in…its an Italian thing; need I say more?? Oh yes, everyone’s last name in my H.S. ended in a vowel; we had one classmate who was Jewish; WE just could not understand THAT! My best friends were all Italian (and still are)…its an Italian thing, and we really had no other options. My Mom was the ONE making tomato sauce in the garage with all of my best friends’ moms…clearly, an Italian thing! I still have to translate for my Mom when she talks to people who don’t understand the half Italian/half English sentence…I mean, whats wrong with these people? What can’t they understand? Doesn’t evey mom in East-chest-a talk like that? The best part…we STILL have Guidos and Guidettes; however, the Guidos are referred to as ‘pretty boys’ now, and the Guidettes are referred to as, well, sluts. I, of course, am NOT one of those girls (for one, by boobs are not fake); I sit home with my Mom, who my kids call Nonna (Yes!), and sip espresso and eat biscotti while the clothes are hanging out on the deck to dry (literally). Unfortunately, my last name is no longer Italian, unless you ask my Mom, who inevitably says it with an ‘o’ at the end-that is, Cosgrovo (instead of Cosgrove). The BESTEST part…I LOVE IT ALL…now THAT, my Italian friends, is an Italian thing that, perhaps, only I-talians can understand. BACI e ABBRACCI….xoxo

    Reply
  4. Somehow, reading this just made me hungry! Can he come make me dinner, too? :)

    Btw, pizza places here SUCK and Pizza Hut is actually one of the best options if that tells you anything.

    I hate doing this here, but your email isn’t attached to your profile and I wanted to answer your question over on my blog(and probably break a rule LOL) but your blogroll can have whoever you want on it- no need to ask!

    Reply
  5. Just call me the "the Mick"

    Fantastic! Absolutely hilarious! Having married a Long Island “Gindaloon” (as my Irish father STILL calls him after 6 years of wedded bliss) and just delivering our first son who clearly takes after my Irish heritage (with his giant Irish noggin, translucent skin, and light blue eyes) this post totally resonates with me. My husband and I joke all the time about the first meal my Irish mother cooked for him which included a slab of flavorless beef and a giant baked potato. That’s. It. In fact, at our engagement party (a small pool party/cookout at my parent’s home in Farmington) the Italian contingency had to drive to Mozzicato’s in Hartford to pick up the pignoli cookies. Apparently a party is not a party without those damn cookies (which I could honestly care less about). My husband has yet to find pizza in Connecticut that is even remotely acceptable to him and we constantly argue about whether those giant sandwiches are “heroes” or “grinders”….he’s starting to come over to the dark side. Thanks for sharing and keep ‘em coming!!!

    Reply
  6. This post is hilarious! I didn’t grow up in an Italian home but I’m Italian at heart. I make a mean sauce even my full-blooded Sicilian in-laws rave over. Although I don’t use enough garlic for my MIL – lol.

    I will definitely be back for more laughs. Thanks!

    BTW, hopping by from Finding New Friends.

    Reply
  7. IM DYING. I also grew up next to the lions and please don’t forget…they made ALMOND MILK. If you have to ask what the hell that is…then you know you are not a slave child who grew up not only how to build a deck in the hottest of august summers, but also how to cook, clean and have that taste for spectacular wine! Sunday dinner…the telephone was off the hook for GOD FORBID you have a friend call at that hour..which was usually around 8pm! I am actually half sicilian and half italian ( a true competitive argument in the old country) but not many would realize it due to my light green eyes….hey… if I had an italian husband and couldn’t go out drinkin with my girlfriends but instead stay home cook, clean and put all on groundation…i’d bang Gardener too!

    xo

    Reply
  8. LMAO!!

    You should move to our neighbourhood where you would fit right in. 95% italian. Tanning salons, nail salons, hair salons and cheese stores abound.

    Please visit!
    And btw – I know what a cutlet is. As in weekly staple in our home. Friends?

    xo
    babymama
    avagracescloset.blospot.com

    Reply
  9. Hi! I found you on the blog hop and your post was awesome! Very entertaining to read! Makes me wish that I was Italian! :)
    I am your newest follower and I would love to have you follow back if you want!
    Camille @

    http://sixsistersstuff.blogspot.com

    PSI voted for your blog on Top Mommy Blogs!

    Reply
  10. I have family in the Staten Island, Orange New Jersey area. They think Dominos and Pizza Hit are abominations and I do not tell them when I eat it.

    Thanks for my blog comment on Chicks and Waffles. Living with all chicks if fun, loving but crazy beyond crazy.

    dig your blog…i wil be back. That’s a promise, not a threat.

    Reply
  11. I have literally laughed my ass off with this post! Coming from a Spanish family, I found myself relating to the Italian “way.” OMG, the conversation with the son was priceless! My son dates what I call “international chicks” and when they’re not from Spain, Italy, or Greece, I say, ‘Prepare to eat crap!” hee hee! Loved the post! Will surely come back for more!

    Reply
  12. I’ m writing from Lala Musings: Inferior Me and found your fun blog through the FNF blog hop as well. Your post gave me a good chuckle and has made me one of your newest followers.

    I look forward to reading more!

    Cheers,

    Lala

    Reply
  13. Lots of great posts here. LOL at your blog.
    The reality is that I have spent the last two decades as the token Italian. It can get very disheartening when nobody knows how to make a pizza or a cannoli and then they actually pronounce it with a hard “K” sound, which right there tips me off that they don’t know what they are making.
    Today I was in town for our farmer’s market and someone was selling Jimmy’s Italian Ice. My daughter had been there the week before, and said, “I think it’s the real thing mom.” I was doubtful, so when we passed it, I saw the paper accordian cups and had hope. I saw the fine ice, and thought maybe. I tasted and thought, it’s the real thing. And I asked the servers where Jimmy was from, and they said, New Jersey. And I congratulated them for producing the real stuff. And they laughed and said all the people from New York and New Jersey say the same thing.

    Reply
  14. YAY!! what a great find at a farmer’s market!!! Thanks for the visit!! xoxoxo

    Reply
  15. Now I’m starving! lol newest follower from dishwaterdreams.com

    Reply
  16. This really is a great post. I loved it….especially the parts about the lions and the cutlets. Laughing out loud here. Looking forward to more.

    Reply
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  20. When people visit when my in-laws are in, I am constantly telling them “they aren’t fighting, they’re talking. That’s how Italians from NY speak”

    Who the eff doesn’t know what a cutlet is?! Fools, I say. Fools!

    Reply
  21. Southern families have a lot of traditions similar to the Irish – drinking and the Italians – eating.

    I identified with pretty much every word.

    Reply
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  32. Christine McTague

    I’m reading your blog from the beginning and absolutely love you!!! I feel like you are me talking half the time! I’m also 1/2 Irish, 1/2 Italian and could relate to everything in this post! (Grew up in NY and Central NJ). I’m a Mc but thank God I got my mother’s Italian cooking skills and olive skin!

    Reply
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