Thursday, December 27, 2007

Buone Feste!

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I apologize for the belated greeting, and I hope your Christmas was a happy one!

The Italian word for Christmas, Natale, is only one vowel away from my name, Natalie. I must admit that when I stroll through the city at this time of year, I feel famous. Buon means good, so at first glance, it appears that all the shops are festooned with signs that read: Good Natalie! Love that.

The Italian way to say Happy New Year is Felice Anno Nuovo. I'd just like to point out the critically important second n in the word anno. About 12 years ago, I was writing out holiday cards to family and friends in the States, as Davide, my Italian boyfriend (now husband) looked on. At the bottom of the cards, I had written: Buon Natale e Felice Ano Nuovo. (Note the lack of the second n in anno.) Davide started to laugh--one of those laughs where he can't speak for a good 60 seconds, complete with tears streaming down his face. When he finally pulled himself together, he told me about the missing n.

Apparently, I was wishing my loved ones a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Anus. Oops.
So with all the n's in tact, allow me to wish you all a Felice AnNo Nuovo and a prosperous , healthy 2008!

P.S. Here's another double-n greeting--this time for my mom. Happy Birthday!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ye Olde Pig's Foot

Close your eyes. Now picture your holiday table laden with a scrumptious feast. What do you see? Turkey? Ham? Latkes? Your great aunt's marshmallow yam casserole? Okay, now feast your eyes on this:

Look closely. Yes, nestled on a bed of lentils is...a pig's foot. Complete with manicured toenails, it appears. Zampone is typical fare during the holiday season in Italy, and it's most common on New Year's Eve. The lentils are thought to bring luck. Not to the pig, apparently.

I've tasted this, and actually it's quite good. But it's only good if you're not staring at the actual pig's foot while you eat. I know, I'm a hypocritical carnivore--I love eating meat, I just don't want to be reminded what it looked like before it came to my plate. If you'd like to surprise your family this holiday season, click here for cooking instructions. Although you might want to have them taste it first before you reveal what it is.
Buon Appetito!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Holiday Wake-Up Call

Today is la festa di San Nicolo here in Italy--the festival of Saint Nicholas. Saint Nick is considered the patron saint of children, sailors, ships and the needy (proving that saints were multi-tasking as early as the 3rd century).

Last night, San Nicolo came to our home while we slept, and left gifts for our three children. This year, like most years, the holiday snuck up on my husband and me--er--San Nicolo. By the time San Nicolo got his act together and finally went out to buy gifts for my kids (at 7:00 last night), it was slim pickins in the toy shops. My youngest daughter wanted some battery-operated talking parrot. But last night there were none to be had. Of course, San Nicolo brought a talking parrot to two kids in her Kindergarten class, and these kids brought the parrots in today for show-and-tell. When my daughter pointed out the unfairness of this, I said that San Nicolo was obviously not on the ball this year, but he'd certainly pass her request on to his cousin, Santa Claus.

In other European countries, including Germany, children put out their boots, and Sinter Klaus fills them with oranges and candy. Lucky, lucky parents.

However, I choose to look at the failed talking parrot incident as a wake-up call. I vow to get my Christmas shopping done before December 24th this year. For once. Mark my words. And if I can get ahold of the coveted talking parrot, I will post a photo on my blog.

Until then, here's wishing you small crowds and ample parking near the front of the store. And if those things elude you...lots of online shopping with a high speed internet connection.