Growing up in an Italian family can be described as walking across a balance beam with civilization and chaos standing on each side of you. For decades, we have shared many wonderful memories. At times it can get confusing as to what is anticipated and actually true. Here are some of my own examples to show what it is like to be a member of an Italian family.
There is a family reunion every summer in August
Even though we have a gathering of family, friends, and relatives for Christmas Eve, Easter, and sometimes birthday parties (if we can make a reservation), the biggest celebration of all is during the hottest month of the year. Barbecues and picnics are taken seriously like any other holiday or event.
There is no such thing as a light meal
When it comes to having dinner, appetizers are always served first. The salami, mozzarella cheese, and crackers are good, but you need to be careful not to get too full before the meal arrives. Dinner consists of a large serving of pasta, salad, bread, meat (7 fishes on Christmas Eve) and drinks. If you manage to survive without exploding like a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, you will find the dessert to be very satisfying.
You cannot leave until you are fed
My grandparents make large amounts of food. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming and difficult to finish the meal (I blame the appetizers!) However, nobody is allowed to leave without eating. The meal is so good that it is nearly impossible anyway for guests to come over without trying everything that is served.
Everyone uses hand gestures when telling stories
The family can be talking about something simple like the weather, something crazy at their job, or what they had for lunch that day, and still communicate with their hands.
Everyone starts talking at the same time that you forget what conversation you were a part of
It can become annoying when you are having a conversation with a family member or friend and suddenly another person is reminded of something crazy or funny that happened and they intervene. Eventually everyone starts telling a similar story and you have to process what is happening.
Appetizers, dinner, and salad are served with bread
Bread will always be placed on the side, no matter the meal. You can expect butter or a small plate with oil and vinegar served with it. There are three types of bread available, so at least you have a choice.
The wooden spoon is a tool for both cooking and punishment
It is for cooking, but it can also be used as an attitude adjustment. If you complain or act disrespectful, proceed with caution.
You will be criticized for pronouncing Italian phrases incorrectly
Make sure to learn how to say words and phrases correctly. Pronouncing them incorrectly will result in criticism or an angry stare.
Dessert is a mix of cannolis, eclairs, fruit, tiramisu, sfogliatella, zeppole, and struffoli
The dessert is the best part of every meal. Everyone takes at least one serving of two or three types of dessert after dinner. There are so many choices, but it cannot be resisted.
There are always leftovers for guests to take home with them
Hours after you have eaten your meal and had dessert, there is so much food leftover that it has become a habit for guests to take food home with them to enjoy on another day.