Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Words of wisdom from an Italian mother (in-law)

Well, I can throw away my Kate Spade's (guide to) Manners, here in Italy, you definitely don't need it. After another gathering at Zia's (with all of Giancarlo's family) my observations and inquisitive nature got the better of me, and 3 days of non-stop rain left some valuable bonding time with the (soon-to-be) mother-in-law. So I dove into the topic at hand, and in all her Italian greatness, she explained to me the following:

*You must keep your hands and elbows on the table...
(the obvious, why?) because the Italians will think that you are getting fresh with the person next to you.

*You must talk. Even if your Italian is horrible, just talk...(and smile!)
(again the obvious, why?) If you don't talk, they think you are hiding something. Being shy in this country is unheard of, and Italians are not sure what to do with you if you are.

*You must tell Zia/Nonna if the food is good, or if it's not. It is perfectly acceptable to tell Zia that her meatloaf with rabbit, and who knows what else wasn't to your liking. Zia will know not to make it again, and she's not offended. The American in me is still pondering this one.

*It is also perfectly acceptable to talk with your mouth full. If you have something to say, why wait till you've finished Zia's random meatloaf to get your point across.. the Italians might be on another conversation topic by that point.

So here's to you, Italians. I will throw out my proper rules of dinner table manners, and chew with my mouth open, keep my elbows on table and speak my non-understandable Italian to you. Kate Spade, write a book on that!


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh... this would certainly not fly at my M-I-L's! I love, love, love it! I hope you are having a great time:)

american girl in italy said...

I wouldn't buy the "tell me if you don't like it" on the food... hahaha (even though my MIL and Zia have no problem critiquing my dishes, I still err on the side of *no, it's delicious!*

And the chewing with the mouth open drives me CRAZY! there are just some rules I can't give up. yuck! hehe

But I do love the elbows on the table one.


finger said...

great tips! My wife and MIL are leaving for Firenze & Siena in a few days. I was hoping someone could help with a few phrases?

>I can't find an Italian equiv. for MIL. What is it?

>Or how about "I'm on vacation with my MIL, please have mercy on me/kill me now"

>and "Yes, I really did arrange a vacation to Italy with my wife & MIL"


passagetoitaly said...

I came across you, and like to follow your progress when you moved to Italy, as I will be soon moving there. I too am getting dual citizenship! :)

I thought this post was really funny. I continually tell my boyfriend to chew with his mouth closed, and try not to talk with his mouth full.


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