Archive for the ‘celebrities’ Category

weighty issues

I normally don’t discuss such things here, but I’m truly curious to hear your take on this.

I read an article on called “With Friends Like These” about a study that found that obesity is contagious and that it spreads through social networks of friends even if those friends live thousands of miles apart.


Let me give you my take:

Until we start accepting responsibility for our actions, owning all of our experiences and choices (good and bad), and really, truly respecting and honoring our bodies through our choices of what we put in them and do to them, the obesity problem will continue–and I’m not just talking about the United States here as it’s becoming a problem in many countries around the world, including Italy.

Let’s leave aside drug and alcohol issues for the moment while we also recognize that there are absolutely similarities in all types of addictions that harm the body.

I share the following as background, so you can understand where I’m coming from on this one:

You can’t tell much from my little head shot up there, but I’m not skinny. I don’t think I ever was (doctors put me on a diet when I was less than a year old–how’s that for setting someone up for life?), and I don’t imagine I ever will be. And that’s fine with me because I feel good and healthy and know that I’m doing my best to be good to my body.

Over the last few years, I’ve been working on developing a better relationship with food, understanding nutrition, listening to what my body tells me it needs, and doing more physical exercise than I’ve ever done in my life. I’ve lost a good bit of weight, but the best thing about all this is that I feel like I’m taking better care of the only thing that’s really mine in the world.

And it feels wonderful.

And no, I’m not perfect–last night for dinner I had a big ole steak and french fries. And it was delicious. I’ll probably have a gelato later. And I’ll probably never lose the last 5-10 pounds I should, according to the Body Mass Index because of it. So be it. A lot of people are at so-called healthy weights but they aren’t healthy in the least (so many skinnies that I know smoke more than the Marlboro Man), so who’s really to say what’s best for me but me?

But enough about me. I’m interested in what you think about the study.

Was it worth studying? Do friends make somebody fat? Family? How much influence do your family and friends have over what you do?

Obviously certain medical disorders cause weight gain, but aside from such causes, what are the real reasons for obesity? Who or what really is to blame? How can we stop this epidemic?

Do you care? Should the government care? If so, how should it go about caring, so to speak?

I’d love to hear some of your experiences and opinions on this issue.

This is a touchy subject, so I do ask that you be as kind as possible if you decide to share your thoughts. I look forward to reading them.


[tags]weight, losing weight, gaining weight[/tags]

Calabrian Door Knockers

Buona domenica!*

Today turned into a working Sunday for me, but not before I took a long walk with Luna and snapped pictures like these:

Someday these will be part of a larger collection of Calabrian Door Knockers. I do realize that I’ll need a different name as that one just sounds kinda dirty.

FYI, the second one above is on P’s house. He tells me there’s another head somewhere in the village although he can’t remember where, so now we have a mission. OK, that sounds kinda dirty too, so let’s move on.

Another series in the works is of the original arches of the village. Here are two of those:

Now back to work for me.

*This means “Happy Sunday,” and believe it or not, they actually say this on a regular basis here. Weekly in fact. There’s even an all-day variety show of the same name.

Yes, you read that correctly: variety show. Yes, it’s 2007.

Top 10 Wonderful Things in Italy, Not America

And on the flip side…

In part because I’m a Libra/bilancia with a tendency toward fairness, and in part because I don’t want you thinking I sit around salivating over visions of waffle fries, I’ve prepared another list to accompany the Top 10 Things I Miss from the States.

Again, other than obvious answers like P, P’s family, and Luna, we do have some things over here that my friends across the pond aren’t going to find. Collectively, they are the:

Top Ten Wonderful Things Found in Italy
and Not in America

10. Ciobar. For the uninitiated, this is hot chocolate as it’s meant to be. Called “cioccolato caldo” here, order it in a bar (café as we’d call it), and you’re going to forget all about that old broad Swiss Miss. Here and throughout Europe, hot chocolate is thick, creamy, and rich–but the best part is that you can make it at home with a packet of Ciobar, milk, a small pot, and a flame. It’s un-freaking-real. I kid you not.

9. Free health care. That would be the dreaded socialized medicine that about half of the United States is so afraid of. Employees here pay into the system through deductions in their paychecks, but whether an Italian citizen/resident is employed, unemployed, elderly, whatever, she’ll still get a spot in line to see the doctor, a stay in the hospital if necessary, required physical therapy–all without the fear of going into heavy debt.

8. Dish-drying rack above the sink. I’ve been out of the U.S. for a while, so if you have these now, please forgive my ignorance. But these babies are ingenious–so if you haven’t seen them around Home Depot, all you industrious types need to get working on a patent. With these metal wire racks positioned above the sink and hidden inside a regular-looking cabinet, you can put your washed dishes directly there to dry *and* store. There’s a metal tray below that catches the water, which you then take out and dump separately. No more drying and putting dishes away! One stop washing, folks.

7. The World Cup. I know many of you will say you don’t care, but try to imagine something, anything (positive) uniting an entire country. It’s a pretty cool thing–and, you know, the views from the cheap seats aren’t too bad either. So to i miei italiani vi dico “popopopopopo-po!” How ’bout them Azzurri?

6. Raoul Bova. Purrrrr. Have you seen “Under the Tuscan Sun,” which, btw, shared nothing with the book other than the name, Tuscany, and an old house? Bova was the young luvah. We see a lot more of him in Italy than just that film, thank goodness. And on the subject of leading men…

5. George Clooney. You had him but you lost him. Sor. I’m sure you have sightings of him every now and again in The States, but honestly, he and his Lake Como villa are on the news here as often as the Pope. And that’s a lot.

4. Gelato. I doubt I really need to explain this one, but let’s just say it’s so much more than ice cream. Sara at Ms. Adventures in Italy is sponsoring a Tour del Gelato, so go over there and join her quest. For my part, I’ll add that we have a special treat here in Calabria known as Tartufo di Pizzo, which translates as the “truffle of Pizzo,” Pizzo being the town in which it’s made. This tartufo is no mushroom, but it can resemble one after the chocolate and hazelnut ice cream with a liquidy fudge center is rolled into a rough ball and then coated in cocoa powder and sugar. Is it summer yet?

3. Really old stuff. I’m certainly not one of those people who says America has no history; if I did, that would make one of my bachelor’s degrees awfully suspect. But if you want to see some *really* old stuff, there are some amazing artifacts around here. Everyone knows about the Coliseum, the Pantheon, Pompeii, but come further south and you’ll see some excellent lesser-known pieces as well. My favorites are the 5th century B.C. Riace Bronzesin Reggio Calabria’s museum. The detail is breathtaking.

2. The opportunity to see the sun rise over the sea on the east coast and the sun set over the sea on the west coast on the same day without the aid of an airplane. Phew. Still with me? From where I am on the Ionian Sea, it’s a two hour drive to get to the Tyrrhenian Coast–this is the narrowest part of the Italian peninsula and enables the phenomenon described above. Theoretically, you could even put in a full day’s work in between if you do this in the summer. Kinda cool, no?

And the number one wonderful thing found in Italy and not in America:

1. Il pisolino. Perhaps you know it better as the siesta, but that’s Spanish. The afternoon nap, although dying off or already dead in much of the north (they tell me), is very much alive in many areas of the Mezzogiorno (south of Rome)–especially during the dog days of summer when it’s too hot to do much else. In fact, the word “mezzogiorno” means noon, and the south of Italy is so called because of the relentless midday sun. Nothing better than a couple hours of shuteye after a refreshing Caprese Salad on the terrazza (in the shade).

So there you have it. Good things are to be found everywhere if only you look.

Did I just violate the copyright of some Disney film?

But seriously, no place is perfect and everywhere has its positive and negative points. And even though I normally like balance, I do hope that wherever you are, the pluses tip the scales.

Note to Paris Hilton: That’s Not Hot

For those of you who don’t know, today is a holiday in Italy. Every December 8, the country has the day off for the Immaculate Conception. And yes, the separation of church and state is the law here. Why do you ask?

So, since it’s a yearly free day, I’ve chosen December 8 as the day my house turns into Christmas Village. And that’s what I did all morning. Harry Connick Jr. serenaded me while I put up our mini-tree (no room for much else) and other assorted cheer.

When I got tired of Frosty melting away (am I the only one who finds that song kinda sad?), I put on the television.

Um, when did Paris Hilton become important enough to do telefonino (cell phone) commercials in Italy? Who has allowed this? I doubt most Italians have the faintest clue as to who she is, even if she is pictured sometimes in the gossip rags. But still…is she *really* going to make them switch phone service?

The funniest part of the ads is one of three things. I can’t decide. In the running are:

(1) Her trying to speak Italian. Horrendous doesn’t begin to describe it. Let’s just say that I had to translate Paris’s Italian into actual Italian for P;

(2) Her voice is dubbed over in some of the ads; or

(3) The voice over girl was apparently given instructions to speak Italian only slightly less horrendously than Paris and (most importantly) to keep the valley girl American accent.

That Paris appears in these ads with one of Italy’s most beloved actors, Claudio Amendola, is more disturbing than funny, so that didn’t make the list. But at least she’s not playing opposite La Loren (who does spots for a different company). Imagine the horror!

So what I’m really wondering is this: is there a way we can petition to get this, um, girl off of Italian airwaves–a way to tell “Tre” that these ads are so *not hot* here?

Has Italy plain run out of people famous for no reason other than their wealth? Aren’t there some Agnelli or DeLaurentis kids running around blowing their inheritances? Or how about members of the ex-royal family now that they’re allowed back in?

Sorry for the rant, but hearing Queen Daft butcher one of the most beautiful languages in the world has effectively drained my Christmas cheer.

Maybe I should go back the dying snowman for a pick-me-up.

Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake