My little hiatus from Florence is coming to an end, and without surprise, I have new observations from being in the states to share. Someone recently asked me “do you feel a little Italian or just like an American in Italy?”
Great question. Well, to start- I’ve never quite felt American. I don’t get football, I’ve never touched a budweiser, I don’t really eat burgers all that much and in fact I usually avoid them, never been a huge bagel eater, the closest American thing besides peanut butter I actually care about are cupcakes, I don’t have “school spirit” and never have, malls stress me out and whatnot. You may think this sounds like the ramblings of a “(fill-in-the-blank with stereotypical descriptor)”, but I do appreciate aspects about the core of American values (that are basically being flushed down the toilet these days) that I now appreciate.
To answer the question, I’ve always felt like I was an American born in the wrong country- especially when it comes to food culture and certain manners. And yes, I feel that I’ve adopted certain mentalities and habits from Italian culture- very willingly. Before I go on to a love sesh on Italy, I should note the things that I do appreciate about being American after being in Italy:
In America, people are generally open-minded and seem more willing to welcome career-focused individuals. When I am home, I see loads of new ideas, start-ups, business models, etc. The system facilitates people with great dreams. It’s really sad how some some narrow-minded, archaic thinking, can appear limiting to new ideas or growth. Italians are geniuses in my opinion, yet its so difficult for them to be expressed. A paradox, one may say!
Granted, I spend my time on the west coast in pretty privileged cities like Seattle and Los Angeles but Florence should be somewhat of a privileged (i.e. economically thriving and dynamic) city and in Florence, I consistently hear people complaining or who have toxic attitudes. It starts to wear on you after a while. I appreciate that we are pretty happy-go-lucky, even if a little stressed out/overworked at times.
That being said, I have other reflections when I am in the states which convince me about Italian culture:
- I don’t get why people rarely eat at the dinner table together, and eat on the couch or restaurants that don’t use tablecloths or placemats.
- Why is it necessary to have 69 kinds of mustard in the grocery store?? One day I counted.
- Same thing about yogurt. (!)
- What happened to just simple, unseasoned foods? I love that if you need a couple days to eat “al bianco” (plain rice, steamed veggies, etc) You can! Why does everything have to be seasoned to death- oh that’s right BECAUSE THE FOODS HAVE NO FLAVOR.
- What is so bad about waiting 23 seconds for anything?
- Why don’t people care more about each other? Why are we so out for our own well-being?
- Sauces…what’s with all the sauces?? Why do you feel the need to add cream and butter to everything? (I think I may have answered my own question on that one)
- Things which are actually not that great yet people demand a lot of money for them, i.e. I went to a “speakeasy” lounge that charged $16 for a “customized” cocktail that was just an underwhelming Manhattan with “craft” bitters. Italians are great critics, I think they taught me to step up my game and a lesson or two about humility.
- Flip-flops in the winter. Enough said.
- Where is your scarf, young lady?!
- Why we gotta eat so early? And so fast?
- How can one consume that much sugar without being a diabetic IMMEDIATELY?
- 20% tipping is outrageous. Unless it was given/shared 50/50 to the chef and not all to the snooty entitled waiter, uninformed when it comes to asking for a wine suggestion and getting something other than “it’s good.” And not to mention, their usual oblivion about food.
- This never ceases to amaze me: ICE COLD WATER IN THE WINTER.
- In Seattle, rarely do you see locals with umbrellas. Why do you want to get damp and eventually smell weird?
- What is so wrong with WALKING?
- Why isn’t there more public transit? Especially one without homeless people peeing on the bus.
- And lastly, what happened to traditional social skills of talking to strangers instead of meeting them online?
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the positive benefits of social media. But I love that when you walk down the avenues in Florence, there are people walking around too. You are not alone. And people will talk to each other and help someone if they see them fall. I think Italy has a strong social fabric and despite its bureaucratic terrors, we should never give up on her. This is one place where I think people have social skills figured out (minus the trolls).
I will say, that I’ve enjoyed sitting on autopilot, not having to figure out a million plus one things, shiver cold in a poorly insulated apartment, the professionalism (usually) of the service industry, the convenience of shopping and not having to plan my day around la pausa.
Well Florence, I’ll be back before you can say “quando.” I have some pretty sweet ideas lined up for future content and new bites to check out including the hot hot Pizzeria Santarpia by the soulful pizza chef Giovanni Santarpia, I see there is Pizza con Lampredotto (that could be either really great or way too much). In any case, I think this might be my new favorite carb casino. Stay tuned!
In your amore for Italy- because I was born to love her…
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