Thursday, January 9, 2014

5 Italian Habits We've Adopted

In our third year in Italy, it's only natural that a few aspects of Italian culture would sneak into our daily lives. Here's five habits we can't kick, even when we're back in Colorado:

1. Nap time. My dad will say that this isn't Italian! Everyone takes an afternoon nap and I learned this from him! But no....every day, from 12:30 to 3:30 all the stores close, we go home, eat lunch and rest. It's called riposo and it's a genius idea, and so Italian. At 3:30 everything starts up again, fresh and ready to go.When we're back in Colorado I get really tired after lunch, but unfortunately at home, unless you're a small child, it's not exactly socially acceptable to take a nap at 1 pm.

2. Going to the store every day. This habit started when we arrived way back in 2011. Our new refrigerator was what, at home, we call a "drink fridge" for storing beers in the garage. Literally only one days worth of food fit in it, plus necessities like wine, mayonnaise and half-empty jars of pesto. When we moved to a bigger apartment this year, we got upgraded to a larger refrigerator - still what you would think was tiny at home but quite large to us - plus, we lived farther away from the grocery store, so I was thinking that we could go every other day. Wrong. Going every day is a habit I can't kick and neither can anyone else here. I see the same people at the grocery store every day at 10 am, doing exactly what I'm doing, and shopping for the day. It's a little tiring in Colorado to go to King Sooper's every single day but I seriously can't help it.

3. Having a glass of prosecco at any time of the day. There are two rules in Italy: no cappuccinos after noon and no red wine before noon. But! You can drink prosecco whenever you feel like it! Sometimes - after my daily grocery store run - I go to my favorite cafe for a cappuccino (because it's around 10 am and therefore acceptable) and there will be the old men of Cortina reading the paper and drinking prosecco. At first I thought it was odd and now I don't even look twice. Sometimes I even join them.

4. Eating pasta for lunch. I may have fought this one for a while, but I just had to give up and give in. First of all, we're in pasta-land over here. Second of all, Ryan eats pasta for lunch on game days and when he's cooking up fresh broccoli from the farmers market and sausage laced with spicy bits of red pepper and throwing it all on top of orecchiette drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese that's only made two hours away....yeah, I'm going to be eating that.

5. Eating dinner at 9 pm. You know why Italians eat dinner so late? So they can finish everything they didn't do while they were napping from 12:30 to 3:30. Personally, we eat dinner late because Ryan often has practice in the evening and because we get made fun of if we say we're eating at 7. In Italy, aperitivo starts around 6 or 7 and goes until 8 or 9, when people go off to dinner. If you go to aperitivo in town, they'll give you slices of fennel bread with mortadella or speck, potato chips and peanuts, green olives and sometimes little sandwiches with tomato and mozzarella or mini pizzas, even. You eat this with a few glasses of wine, and of course you aren't hungry until 9! One time in Colorado last summer, I was getting hungry so I told Ryan I was going to start cooking dinner and he looked at me and said, "No. It's 6 pm. We can't eat at 6:30. It's time for aperitivo."

And 3 American Things We Just Can't Let Go Of:

1. Making a to-do list. When we first came to Italy, someone told us: "only expect to do one thing per day." This was sound advice, but come on. One thing?! Most days I try to do at least three.

2. Being on time. When there is a team gathering and we're supposed to meet somewhere at 7 pm (for aperitivo, of course), Ryan and I are consistently the first people there....and the ONLY people there for the first hour, usually.

3. Driving carefully. One of my favorite Italian stories is the time when Ryan asked our friend Giorgio what the road signs mean that have the number 70 with a slash between the 7 and the 0. "Oh," said Giorgio, "that's the suggested speed limit....but you don't have to obey it." Oh. Okay.