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?
Do you know how many lions there are?
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!!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
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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