Growing Up Italian: Memories and Traditions
Being Italian is like sitting at the cool kid’s table in the cafeteria. Everyone wants to join. We love to eat. We love to drink. We’ve produced some of the world’s greatest painters, sculptors, and composers. Basically, we’re just all that is awesome. My memories of growing up Italian are a rich tapestry woven out of a lot of love, a lot of laughter, and a lot of lasagna. Here are 10 things you can only appreciate if you grew up Italian.
1. The Hospitality Rule
Italians are known for their hospitality, and this rule is engraved in our minds – “Guests should never leave hungry”. As soon as guests arrive, we ask if they’ve eaten anything yet. Offering food and drink is a reflex action. It’s a part of our culture that hosts should always have something to offer, whether it’s a pizza or a plate of cookies.
2. The Fear of No Leftovers
At an Italian party or gathering, if there are no leftovers, it’s a cause for concern. For us, no leftovers means someone went home hungry or there wasn’t enough to eat. So, we always make sure that there’s plenty of food for everyone. The golden rule of party cooking is – if the serving plates are empty when it’s over, you’re not doing it right.
3. The Banned Substance – Spaghetti-Os
In Italian households, some foods are considered taboo. Spaghetti-Os are one such food. It’s often equated with not being real food. We believe that any Italian dish should be cooked and prepared fresh, never coming straight from a can.
4. The Obligatory Contribution
When invited over for a meal, we believe it’s essential to contribute to the table, no matter what our host says about not needing anything. Whether it’s wine or homemade dish with complementary wine, we always bring something to contribute to the occasion.
5. The Month-Long Holiday Meal Planning
Holiday planning is critical in Italian households. We plan holiday meals at least a month in advance, discussing every detail and assigning dishes to family members. The holiday meal is an occasion to bond, celebrate and relish the bountiful food.
6. The SeaWorld Exhibition
The seven fish tradition on Christmas Eve is a big deal in the Italian culture. The biblical reference of seven sacraments justifies this tradition. A Catholic tradition to abstain from meat on Christmas Eve also plays a role. However, at the heart of it, we love all seafood, and it’s a way to showcase our cooking skills and resilience.
7. Wine – The Solution to Everything
In an Italian household, there’s always a reason to open a bottle of wine. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant occasion like a birthday, promotion, or wedding. Everything calls for a celebration, and wine adds to the atmosphere and food.
8. The Appetizer Game
Appetizers in the Italian culture are not limited to a lighter, smaller dish. We revel in a diverse range of appetizers, which can easily make a meal on their own. John Pinette’s comedy routine about the Italian restaurant resembles this tradition accurately.
9. The versatility of Pastina
Pastina is a symbolic staple ingredient in Italian households. It’s highly versatile, and we love to experiment with it. Be it with sauce, butter, chicken, or veggies. It’s an ingredient that goes with almost everything, making it highly adaptable, and we serve it in various forms and styles.
10. The Art of Throwing a Party
Italians know how to throw a party. Food is usually the centerpiece of any Italian event, be it grand or intimate. It’s our way of sharing life together and celebrating. It’s a time to bond and connect, and with the right kind of food and wine, it’s a joyous celebration.
Growing up Italian is an experience of warmth, love, and family. The memories and traditions we’ve shared have become a part of our identity. Whether it’s the hospitality rule, fear of no leftovers, or planning holidays months in advance, each element depicts a culture of celebration and togetherness. The Italian culture is abundant in values that revolve around food, family, and celebrations – and we wouldn’t want it any other way.