Not all Italian stereotypes fit like pasta dinner, capisce?
I think people have many misconceptions about us Italians.
And as a first generation American — well, on my Pop’s side, anyway (Mom’s from Ashtabula), I would like to clear up a few things.
Not that I can’t speak from experience, natch, but I did take to the web to research typical characteristics of Italians / Italian-Americans. Here’s what a site called “Italians.Are.Us.Com” referred to as some of our typical features.
• We have naturally olive skin tones.
Sadly, I wasn’t blessed with this lovely feature. Quite the opposite, in fact.
I burn like a twig in a roaring firepit when I spend too much time sunbathing which, of course, is one of my favorite pastimes. I tan eventually but first I crisp up to a nice crimson hue that makes me look less olive and more like a pimento stuffed inside one.
Ah, the irony hangs thick in the air like pea soup — which Italians totally will eat but only with garlic and onions and extra virgin olive oil and basil. It is naturally topped off with a nice blend of grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses.
What, isn’t that how everyone does it? Anyhoo…
• We are constantly gesticulating.
I mean, constantly might be a bit of a stretch … er, well, kinda. I will neither confirm nor deny my need to tie my hands down while conversing in public spaces, a’ight?
Ugh, I’m so animated that I can’t even stop myself from doing it in print! Ah well, whatcha gonna do, eh?
• We eat only pasta and pizza.
Now that’s not ALL we ever consume — but to deny that I ate pasta at least thrice a week during my childhood would be fibbing. Pizza made an appearance on at least another day and sometimes a nice chicken cacciatore and / or chicken marsala thrown in for good measure.
But honestly, these staples are not technically our ONLY fare.
Speaking of fair, who can honestly claim that they are not a lover of both pasta and pizza? In fact, Jan. 17 is annually recognized as World Pizza Day in Italy and on Feb. 9 in the rest of the world.
Plus, it’s not every culture who has a patron saint (that’d be Saint Anthony Abbot) who’s considered the saint of pizzaioli and pizza makers. Look, it’s obvious that we aren’t just foodies but are likewise literal food trendsetters.
Yes, yes, I realize I am actually validating some of the very stereotypes I’d set out to debunk. I digress.
• We are romantic and affectionate.
All right, this one’s pretty spot on, too. My Nonna used to hug us and pinch our cheeks so hard our teeth nearly popped out.
And truth be told, old PK’s a hugger of colossal proportions. Sue me, I love a good strangle hold squeeze to show how much I care.
• Italians are crazy drivers.
I resent — and perhaps have several family members who resemble — this one.
Apparently, there’s a saying in Italy which, roughly translated into English, goes a little something like this:
“In Milan, traffic lights are indications. In Rome, they are suggestions. In Naples, they are nothing more than Christmas decorations.”
Speaking of Natale, I’d better sign off before I’ve rambled so long that it’s time to start roasting castagne — that’d be chestnuts to all y’all.
Buona Domnica, er, happy Sunday all!
Kimerer is a columnist who may or may not make sauce weekly — and don’t call it gravy or you may end up wearing some! Contact her via pkimerer@zoom internet.net.