Archive for the ‘why do they do that’ Category

La scirubetta calabrese

La Scirubetta Calabrese: Ancient Snow Cone

La scirubetta calabrese is a time-honored winter tradition in Calabria, and like much of the area’s rustic cuisine, its preparation couldn’t be simpler.

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Do Italians Eat Pasta Every Day?

One question I get from many people is whether Italians eat pasta every day. Of course answering such a question would require an enormous generalization, so I’m going to give you the experience in my house, which consists of a Calabrian and an American with Italian, Lithuanian, and German blood.

Do we eat pasta every day?

Pretty much, yes. Usually either lunch or dinner — but hardly ever both — contains some kind of pasta for us.

I’m sure for some of you the thought of eating pasta every day sounds boring, and you’re positive you’d get sick of it within a week or so. This actually did cross my mind as I considered moving here — would I just get sick of eating pasta? And if so, then what would I do?

Well, seven years in, and I’m still having some pasta on most days. Don’t get me wrong; there are days when I just don’t want pasta. So I don’t eat it, easy peasy.

“Pasta” Does Not Equal Spaghetti and Meatballs

One important thing to remember is that Italians don’t eat pasta with “red sauce” and meatballs every day; in fact, the rumors you’ve heard about Italians not eating “spaghetti and meatballs” are true; if there are meatballs, they are often huge and served after the pasta course, so you’ll have one, *maybe* two at the most.

That “red sauce” is often a ragù, made with meat (often pork and for us, rabbit or chicken); in our house, that’s probably a once every two weeks kind of dish, often on a weekend.

Also? Italians don’t just eat spaghetti. As I’m sure you know, pasta comes in all shapes and sizes, and part of the fun is matching what kind of sauce or accompaniment best suits a certain kind of pasta, so there’s a lot more than spaghetti going on around here.

So what else are we eating with pasta? Well I have a list of recipes to give you some ideas, and you’ll see everything from tuna (with or without tomatoes) to broccoli (no tomatoes) to ricotta fresca to fresh tomatoes and basil to prawns. We eat pasta cold in a salad in the summer and hot in minestrone in the winter — and with legumes like peas, ceci, and lentils year round.

Pasta is very versatile, and as always, I do encourage you to experiment.

But Pasta Makes You Fat!

Another misconception regarding pasta is that some people believe that if they ate pasta every day, they’d be the size of a house. The answer to that is, well, it depends on how much pasta you eat and what you’re eating with it.

Pasta and carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap in health circles, but you *do* need them in your diet — in moderation, just like everything else that helps your body function the way it should.

Italians seem to know instinctively that 100-200 grams of pasta a day falls well within the recommended daily allowances of carbs. You just have to not load up on carbs the rest of the day in order to keep a good balance.

Other health issues like diabetes may cause concern with carbs, but if you’re an otherwise healthy person, eating a bit of pasta a day is one of the common features of the Mediterranean Diet, which we know can offer great health benefits — but know that is not a “diet” as the word has come to be understood. It is a way of life.

Yeah, I’m Still Not Buying that I Could Eat Pasta Every Day and Not Get Sick of It

If you still can’t imagine eating pasta every day, think of it this way: do you eat bread every day? Many people do, in one form or another. Well you can think of pasta as our bread. It accompanies other ingredients and isn’t really the “point” of the meal — although it’s still an important part to be sure (see the discussion of matching pasta with sauce above).

Note also that Italians will generally *not* eat bread and pasta together, so don’t be surprised if you’re in an Italian restaurant and they swipe any bread off the table just as the pasta is served.

But hey, we’re not all created the same, so it very well may be that you would get bored with an Italian diet and with eating pasta every day. So why not come over here and find out?

How often do you eat pasta?

Love Thursday: Celebrating an Anniversary

Last week, P and I celebrated four years together.

Lots of people on both sides of the Atlantic ask us about marriage and when we’ll make it “official.”

We may get around to doing that (and I’ll be sure to let you know!) but for now, we’re just fine with the way things are, so no announcements are forthcoming–not today at least. Every day is an adventure, though, so who knows what tomorrow will bring?

In any event, I refer to P as my marito (husband) in conversations with others, and he calls me his moglie (wife)–or more often, his mugliere in Badolatese. And as far as everyone is concerned, his parents are already my suocera and suocero; I also have lots of cognati e cognate (brothers- and sisters-in-law).

Also, this is what my left hand looks like each and every day:

Just some rings on Flickr

P gave me the white gold band when we had been together for about a month or so way back in 2005, and the diamond engagement ring is just that–but it was my grandmother’s, given to her by my grandfather in the early 1940s. She gave it to me several years before she passed away, making sure that I would be the one to have it.

No, the two rings don’t remotely match, but that seems rather perfect for P and me, who are, in many ways, polar opposites. We’re alike in some important ways too, and just like P and me, the two rings meet somewhere in the middle–I love how the silverish tones shine together–and somehow just work.

And that works for us, too.

Happy Love Thursday everyone!

P.S. I have already contacted the 5 La Bella Lingua winners:

Paola of Always Italianissima


Peter Leonard




The Logic of Italian Boys’ Names

For as long as I can remember, I gave my furry friends nicknames based on their real names.

  • My dog Maverick became Maverickaronyravydoodlenoodlebug, which then became Doodlebug or simply The Doodle.
  • My cat Kudzu became Kudzucchini (sometimes followed by Big Fat Weenie, but the poor thing doesn’t deserve to have *that* posted on the Internet).

Now I have Luna, aka Luna Balloona aka Luna Baboopa aka Boopers aka The Boop.

Stella? A similar pattern. Stella Bella aka Stella Bellamoopers aka The Moop.

So yes, I often call my girls, who are so *not* excited by the gorgeous view behind them and only want to be untied so they can run freeeeeee, (right to left),

The Moop and The Boop:

My girls unimpressed with the view on Flickr

Little did I know that this fascination with changing real names into something somehow related and yet not was actually in my blood.

You see, here in Calabria, most guys are named one of, oh, ten or so names. And yet they go by all different versions of those names, so for us non-natives, if someone is suddenly called by their real name, it can get confusing.

Here are, from my perspective:

    The Top 7 Most Common Male Names in Calabria
    and Some of Their Related Nicknames:

1. Antonio: Tonino, Toni, Totò, Nino, Antò
2. Domenico: Mimmo, Mico
3. Francesco: Checco (KEH-koh), Ciccio (CHEE-choh)
4. Giuseppe: Peppe, Pino, Pinuccio (pee-NEWCH-oh) (not Pinocchio!)
5. Pasquale: Pasqualino, Pascal, Pascala
6. Salvatore: Salvo, Turi
7. Vincenzo: Vincenzino, Cenzo (CHEN-zoh), Enzo, Cece (cheh-CHEH)

Note that although these names are spread throughout Italy, nicknames often differ by region, so do check with a local before trying to show off your nickname knowledge. And also note that this is completely separate from the sopranome system.

And in case you’re wondering about my P?

Well for his Paolo, he doesn’t like to be called anything but Paolo, but sometimes the older generations call him “Paolino” or, *very* local to us as it’s only used in this town, maybe one or two others, Paolehru (powl-EHR-oo). How cute is that?

Do you do nicknames?

Buon weekend!

Feast of the Seven Fishes: Italian-American Christmas Eve Tradition

Read more about The Feast of the Seven Fishes, the traditional Italian-American Christmas Eve meal that features seven different types of fish.

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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