You may have seen a number of the items below before, but after seeing comedian Tammy Pescatelli last weekend and speaking with her about the common traits of our Italian families (posted some pictures with her, Wife and me), I wanted to share the items below. Both Tammy’s and my Grandparents immigrated to the USA from Sicily. Our parents were first generation Americans. It is funny to me that my 3 children feel the same way about my parents as I did about my Grandparents. Tammy Pescatelli married another Italian-American. My parents wanted to me marry an Italian girl but I knew I never would. Two Italians in one marriage is one too many.
You are Italian when:
• You carry your lunch in a plastic bag you get from a store because you can't fit two cappicola (Italian ham) sandwiches or leftover pasta, 2 oranges, 2 bananas and pizzelles (Italian waffle cookies) into a regular lunch bag
• Your mechanic, plumber, electrician, accountant, travel agent and lawyer are all your cousins
• You have at least 5 cousins living in the same town or street and all 5 of those cousins are named after your Grandfather or Grandmother
• You or your relatives are on a first name basis with at least 8 banquet hall owners
• You netted thousands of dollars from your first communion and confirmation
• Your Grandfather has fig trees
• You eat Sunday dinner at 2:00 PM
o The table is set with sparkling clean everyday dishes and it doesn't matter if they don't match
o All the utensils go on the right side of the plate and the napkin goes on the left
o A clean kitchen towel is at Grandom and Grandpop’s (Nonna's & Papa's) plates because they won't use napkins
o Homemade wine and bottles of 7-UP are on the table
o First course, Antipasto then change plates
o Second course, macaroni with tomato sauce (all pasta is called macaroni) then change plates
o Third course, meat, potatoes and vegetables then change plates
o THEN, and only then - NEVER AT THE BEGINNING OF THE MEAL would you eat the salad drenched in homemade oil & vinegar dressing and then change plates
o Next course, fruit & nuts - in the shell - on paper plates or napkins because you run out of the real plates
o Last is coffee with anisette espresso for some and “American” coffee for the rest - with biscotti (hard cookies) to dunk in the coffee
o The kids go out to play
o The men go lay down and sleep so soundly that you could do brain surgery on them without anesthesia
o The women clean-up after the meal in an amazing display of organization, each knowing exactly what they are to do without any instructions being given and the only conversation is the latest gossip
• On Christmas Eve you eat only seafood and then at midnight a feast of Italian meats, sausage and cold cuts is served
• Your Grandmother and Mother’s meatballs are the best
• You've been hit with a wooden spoon and had a shoe thrown at you
• Your Grandmother or Mother never threw a baseball in their life, but could nail you wherever they aimed with a shoe thrown from the kitchen while you were in the living room
• Plastic runners are on the carpet and/or plastic is on some furniture at your Grandparents house
• You know how to pronounce "manicotti" and "mozzarella"
• You understand "bada-bing " and "bada-boom"
• Relatives have great kitchens, but use the $259 stove from Sears in the basement to cook
• There is some sort of religious statue in the hallway, living room, bedroom, front porch or backyard
• Some room in the house has old wedding favors with poofy net bows and stale almonds (they are too pretty to open)
• A portrait of the Pope and Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin hang in the house somewhere
• Meatballs are made with pork, veal and beef because Italians do not care about cholesterol
• Turkey is served on Thanksgiving AFTER the macaroni, manicotti, gnocchi, lasagna, and minestrone or shcarole (escarole) soup
• Everyone speaks with half of the sentences in English, the other half Italian
• Every conversation starts at a normal sound level and gets louder with every exchange
Italian Sign Language:
Response to one comment below:
Yes I am 100 % of Italian heritage. All 4 of my Grandparents were from Southern Italy. When speaking in English or Italian, I and all of my relatives called it tomato sauce if the sauce is based on tomatoes. We have sauces and have never used to term gravy to refer to any sauce that was placed on any pasta.
In my Italian family, gravy is considered an "American" food. Any food that is not Italian or specific to any other country or culture is called "American" food in my family.