Thursday, August 13, 2009

Italian Names For Yuppie Food

Whenever I prepare for a trip, I always think about Italian trains. There was always a certain ambiance on the train platform. people stayed by the departing trains until the last minute. One drink that comes to my memory is red wine from a pry off metal topped glass bottle mixed with seltzer.

Here in the US, I find Italian names for food that are nothing like what I remember. Here in America, if you buy a "panini", it is likely be an overpriced little sandwich that will set you back about seven dollars. In Italy, "panini" means "little roll". When it does refer to a sandwich, it is usually a bare bones roll with a single piece of cheese or ham. Even in the train station, it was usually around a dollar.

"Formaggio" in Italy is cheese. In America it starts at ten dollars for twelve ounces. People like to dress it in oversized adjectives. Usually, its sole advantage is having been to places that you haven't. The only time I buy expensive cheese is if it smells so bad that my kids run out of the room. My father did the same thing to me with foul smelling German cheeses. Stinky food is a macho thing. My son gets me back with shmaltz herring . It makes me want to gag.

Prosciutto is just the Italian word for ham. It has none of the snooty connotations that it has in gourmet delis over here.

I have never had a "latte" in America. In Italy, it means "milk". End of story.

I do like to have the feeling of traveling when I shop. I like vegetables with Chinese names that I can't pronounce and coffee from places with sawdust on the floor. I like beer from places I wish I could visit. What I like most is going to ethnic music stores and getting local pop music.

Italy is a beautiful place with vast climatic and linguistic diversity. I am very fond of Italian foods, espresso and wine. What I don't like is when Italian words are put on yuppie foods. Nothing personal But that is why I like to keep a big dirty river between me and Manhattan

Great Italian song from 1973 by Anna Identici

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