Once upon a time in Texas, there was a girl with an appetite and a dream...


"English" word use in the Italian vocabulary

Being in Italy for 2 1/2 years now, I have learned to speak English in a whole new way...The Italian Way. You see, just as we have integrated (and surely massacred) many Italian words into the English language, so have the Italians welcomed, and subsequently massacred some of our words. However, to actually understand an Italian when he or she uses one of our words, or, conversely, be understood BY an Italian when speaking our words, there is a simple rule to follow: EVERY letter must be pronounced, and not just in the Martha Stewart-y, I-can-really-annunciate-the-letter-t way.

Below, I will give the word followed by the phonetic "Italian Way." I would suggest you pronounce our version out loud, following it with the much more fun versione Italiano. Don't forget to roll those Rs!

*internet EEN-tehrrr-neh-tuh
*spelling ZPEL-in-guh
*shopping SHOW-pi-nguh
*wafer VAH-ffehr-ruh
*computer comb-POO-tehr-uh

Then, there are words that appear to have English origins, but do not exist in our vocabulary:

*footing: (FOOOOT-teeen-guh) This apparently means jogging. Jogging is less frequently used, and if you don't pronounce it "yoe-geen-guh," no one will understand you.

*bloc notice: (BLOKE-uh noe-TEEEZ-uh) I'm pretty sure this means "note pad," but don't quote me on that one.

Those are just a few examples. One can imagine how silly I feel saying eeeenterrrrrrrrnetttuh, but the will to communicate has slowly taken the place of my pride. So if you run into me while I am "fooooteeenguh" in Naples, feel free to point and laugh, I would do the same.


3 things for which I am grateful

1. The end of the Olympics

2. Getting to try parsley-and-garlic-stuffed-charcoal-grilled artichokes from a street-side fruit and vegetable vendor yesterday morning...mmmmmmm

3. Finding The Daily Show with John Stewart on satellite TV's CNN!!!!Wooohooo!

Oh wait, I forgot prosciutto. I am very grateful for prosciutto.


In Giro a Napoli

That means "out and about in Naples." (In Giro, een jeero, is a term used frequently here and it's about time you learn some Italian!) Well, I thought I could shut up with all of this writing for a minute to share some photos of this crazy city. If you click (maybe double, not sure) on the photo, you should be able to see it in its larger form. Let me know what you think!

This is a view from Mergellina, the smaller port of Naples. Oh so Mediterranean!

I took this at dusk in a neighborhood called Vomero--it's at the top of Naples and it's the middle-class (borghese) quarter.

These 2 (above and below) are from Piazza del Gesu' Nuovo. It's in the historic (i.e. ooooooooooold) center of the city. The buildings, which are actually a church (left) and monastery (right) were both originally built in the 15th century. The facade on the church to the left seems as though it were built to serve as a device of medieval torture, but I have been told that it serves a purely aesthetic purpose. Go figure. I don't want to ramble on about the history as though I were copying a brochure onto my website, so I'll try to find a link and those of you who are interested can go a searchin'.

Oooooh, looming clouds...

(The spell checker wanted me to replace Napoli with nipple, but I don't want to live in a place called nipple.)

Have a good weekend everybody :)


Ugly people need not apply

Equal opportunity employer?? No way. Not here in Italy. That is a photo of a "help wanted" sign in the window of a furniture store. It reads like this:


Yes, it requests that she (no men please) be attractive, and I am sorry to say that it is all too common. In fact, at first glance, I'm not sure if they want a hooker or a salesperson. You would never see this in America (so blatantly written, anyway), if the prospective employer had no desire to see the inside of a courtroom. Has it ever occurred to you to care about the appearance of your local futon saleswoman?

Things are different here.

They typical response, with no irony would be, "You know, a cute girl, she can flirt and sell more couches."

MmmmHmmm. Italian logic at its best.


Have you met my ranting Grinch?

Mine though, is an Olympics Grinch. I don't go ca-razy over the summer Olympics, and I care even less about the winter ones. I mean, I could really care less if they EVER EVEN HAPPENED. The only shining moment in my Olympic-related memories was seeing Mary Lou Retton get a 10 on her vault routine in '84. (It ws '84, right?) Then I met her at Astroworld the next summer, or so, and got her autograph. At 10 years old, I was almost as tall as her. I was starstruck!

I hold no feelings for the Winter Olympics other than irritation over my regular programming being interrupted--for goodness sake, it seems as though ESPN has taken over the world for 2 weeks. I almost cannot turn my head without hearing or seeing some reference to the games. And like a computer without a screensaver, the Olympic rings have burned their image into my weary, weary eyeballs.

So, tell me that I am horrible for not liking this worldwide obsession that comes around an all-too-frequent-every-2-years! I prefer 2 weeks of Wimbledon, or a Lance Armstrong-led Tour de France. Now that's something I can get behind and cheer for. Tell me that I am an unpatriotic pessimist lacking love of competitive sport! Tell me that you'll never read my blog again because I have an unpopular opinion! Just tell it to my Olympic Grinch, he don't take no gruff offa noooooobody.

(Post Publication note:
I am sorry if this admission has shamed my family and caused spontaneous rioting in light of my anti-Olympic statements.)


I never thought it would, but it happened to me

Well, I've done it. I have entered a world where women iron underwear. Not being one to care if my undergarments are wrinkly, I thought it would never happen to me.

Now, here in Italy, if left unchecked, ironing can take over one's life. I really don't remember ironing so much in Texas. Did I just walk around a wrinkly mess? Who knows. All I know is that keeping within the normal realm of ironing duties (pants and shirts, if one is lucky), is a rather hefty task.

The women here in the south, though, they go beyooooond the call, people. And when I say beyond I mean something. must. be. done. to. stop. them. The list of things to iron would include pretty much everything but food, tampons, and shampoo.

So, in the spirit of giving and helping out with what needs to be done, the list of things that I have ironed in my lifetime has expanded to include sheets, bath towels, hand towels, napkins, underwear, panties, undershirts (male and female), and pajamas. But socks?! I won't do it, I just won't.

This, however, is neither rant, nor complaint. It is just my inner modern American woman's fascination and disbelief of the existence of this strange Italian act. While I look upon this cultural habit as something-I-would-never-do-in-my-own-house-even-if-I-could-give-crisply-pressed-dishtowels-in-exchange-for-world-peace, it is just a small favor, and I am happy to oblige.


Le Delizie di Napoli

Napoli is full, just FULL of good things to eat, and believe me, I be eatin'...
La Pizza! Naples is the birthplace of pizza, the absolute classic being the Margherita. It takes just minutes (about 5) to cook in these traditional wood-fired ovens that have a temperature of around 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a designation of La Vera Pizza Napoletana, that is awarded (much like the D.O.C. and D.O.C.G. of wines) to the Pizzaiolo (pizza maker) who makes his margherita with very strictly controlled ingredients. The mozzarella MUST be Mozzarella di Bufala, produced in Campania, the region of Naples. Next, the tomatoes must come from the volcanic soil surrounding Mount Vesuvius, and the basil must be fresh!! To top it all off, you put good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. (This is more or less accurate, but let's not be picky, k?) There was an actual law created by the Ministry of Agriculture that defined what La Vera Pizza Napoletana is composed of--these people are hardcore about their food, eh? But, that is one of the things I love about this country.

Baba' al Rhum--a typical Neapolitan dessert that is made of sponge cake, baked in a (typically) mushroom shape, then soaked in rum syrup. They can be found plain, stuffed with chocolate or pastry cream, or topped with whipped cream and tart little wild strawberries. The latter is my favorite because the baba' is so sweet that it needs the tartness of those strawberries to give it a little complexity. For most, the unadorned baba' is the unbeatable classic, but for me, pleasure is in the balance of flavors.

There ya go, just a couple of the culinary classics of Napoli. Don't worry, I'll be back with more. But now, ho voglia di dolce!


Drive Beer

The beer within the norms of the rules of the road, that's how it reads. At the bottom in very very small print it actually tells us that 2 of these beers at 2.5% alcohol each, renders you able to drive just under the legal limit. I found this billboard at a highway filling station in Naples. So, cheers everybody! Have nice, cold beer with your local very friendly motorcycle cop and ever-so-slightly-buzzed race car driver. Just be sure give them a good, looooong headstart.

Tanto Gusto, alcol giusto!
(Lots of flavor and just the right amount of alcohol)

I feel safer already, don't you?


If you say so

You know that "Overheard in..." website? Well, here's mine:

Overheard in the Naples airport...

A German guy speaking to an Italian and an Indian guy said, "My English I think is not so really bad."


(disclaimer: No, I do not think that I speak perfect Italian.)


Bio-hazard on the homefront

In honor of my departure (?), I decided to relive one the most American moments of my stay. For some of you, this won't be the first time...

NOVEMBER 17th, 2005

The attack on the cutting board began 2 days ago when I made a beef stir-fry dish for dinner. Beef. Not chicken, not pork. Beef. Apparently my vigorous scrubbing and a night in the dishwasher left a faint bit of meat stain on the white cutting board. My mom has since begun and continued the assault with all of the weapons in her anti-bacterial stock-pile. First Lysol spray, then antibacterial soap and HOT water, another trip to the dishwasher, and two soaks in bleach water. I'm not sure when it will end.

Someone needs to stop this germ-fearing madness, and I know it ain't just my mama. I am speaking for all Americans. Are we creating a league of super bacteria? We now have access to industrial size anti-bacterial gels with hand pumps at Sam's and Costco. Is it really necessary?

This stuff is unheard-of in Italia. After telling my mom that the butcher cuts my chicken thighs with his bare hands and THEN he hands me the bag with those same bare, contaminated hands, I think she's going to start calling me to make sure that I soak in a Lysol bath after every trip to the meat market. I mean, they wash their cutting boards with regular soap---you may want to sit down for this--AFTER CUTTING CHICKEN! Yes it is true. They even let teething babies gnaw on the discarded raw chicken fat.

Ok, just kidding. They spray the cutting boards with lysol... ;)


Have you seen this woman?

Hey everybody, I need your help as we have a serious problem in the neighborhood. Apparently, there is some elderly woman who breaks into my parents' house at night, uses my brush, and leaves a few long gray hairs stuck in the bristles. If you see her, please tell her to stop it. I almost thought they came from my head.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this very urgent matter.