Mangia, Mangia

maria Maria's Blog

FamilyDinnerI was sorting out old family pictures and it seems like we are always eating. Maybe it’s not that we eat that often, more like we sit around for hours and yes, we eat more than one course or like we call it here, entrée.

Eating a meal in Italy comes with implied rules. We learn as we grow up. Every lunch and often also dinner was a family event. We sat around the table,  real tablecloth and napkins, no paper plates or plastic glasses. And we made a big fuss over food. When a guest sat at our table, we practically force fed the poor soul. That after the same guest politely refused a second helping. Are you kidding me? Mangia, mangia could be heard from the next street. Still the same way today, at least in my tribe.

When I arrived in the United States, I assumed the same rules would apply. So the first time I sat at a family gathering and serving platters came around, I only scooped a morsel size serving of food and put it on my plate. Needed to save room for the mangia, mangia part. I got a lot of puzzled stares, only once I was encouraged to take more and I politely declined and then ate my bite of food and waited. And waited.

Because…back home it was a sign of good manners to decline the first or second time, only to accept when the chorus of mangia, eat, started. Of course, no such chorale happened here. Aye!!!

I went home hungry, my then husband concerned maybe I didn’t like his mother’s cooking? I wouldn’t know, I didn’t get a chance to try it. I did however learn quickly and like they say back home..when in Rome do as the Romans do…same rule applies here.

Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.     Sophia Loren

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