29 November 2011

Socialized Healthcare? Per me, sì, grazie!

So, we went to the doctor last week to get “tickets” so we can get our eyes examined to renew our NYS drivers licenses and have V.’s shoulder checked out.  Our doctor doesn’t speak English, but he was very nice, sitting there in his white doctor coat, trying to get our family health history using a combination of Italian, French and English.

He handed us our tickets and a post-it with the free-phone number to make “reservations” for the exams.

24 November 2011

Today's Run, in Pictures

Today’s my nephew’s twelfth birthday.  He’s running a Thanksgiving 5k today in Tampa.  The same 5k his mom and I ran four years ago (during which, I'm pretty sure he was sleeping).  

Wish I could’ve been there with them today.  For one thing, Florida's flat.  But really, I just thought about them the whole time I did my own run around the same time as theirs. 
out and back, 6k

For him, here’s my run today, in pictures:

23 November 2011

Becoming Italian, Part 3 (or Crisi di Identità)

So, I got my Carta di Soggiorno.  Now, I had to get it updated to show I live in the new Province so that I could register with the new Comune.

Ah, Ascoli, I knew I liked you, but after visiting your questura, with its l lovely chair-filled room, its lack of crowds and its little tray in which to place my documenti, (not to mention your glassed-in teller area), I think I may be in love.

21 November 2011

Giving Thanks? He Don't Wanna

We were at the hotel for dinner.  L. had just flown in from a business trip in Denmark.  She had gotten on the wrong bus from Rome’s Termini Station and Instead of passing right thru our town, where she could’ve hopped off, it took her down thru L’Aquila and more of Abruzzo over to the coast and up to San Benedetto, where she found a cab to take her here, adding approximately an hour and a half to her all ready lengthy day of travel.  We thought some handmade taglietelle with truffles might help.

19 November 2011

Being Counted

On Wednesay, we returned our Censimento to the office at the Comune.   The Italian census is much different than the US version. 

The Italian census is sixty-two pages long.  Filling it out is required by law.  Not doing so is punishable by a fine.  If you’re not lucky enough to have a form with a number on it to enter into the online site, you must complete it by hand.

11 November 2011

A Little Bit of Paris

When we lived in Larchmont, we’d often get up on Saturday morning and walk to the best cheese shop around.

10 November 2011

New Word: Incubo

I hear new words all the time, look them up in my dictionary, and then can’t remember their meaning the next time I encounter them.  Sometimes, I learn the meaning in such a way that I think I’ll never forget it.

The other day, I was sitting at the bar, trying to read the newspaper.  The frontpage headline showed a picture of the destruction caused by the flooded Pò River in Northern Italy, with this superimposed over it:
“Il Pò Paura, Incubo Pieno”

I got that there was fear because of the Pò flooding and that something was full, and I could appreciate the alliteration, but I had no idea what “incubo” meant.

Using my stellar etymological skillz, I wondered why the river was full of a demon.  That couldn’t be right.

I did what I often do in situations like this when I’m too lazy to look it up in my 5 euro “pictionary”, as it’s called by our friend, A. 

I asked F.:



“What it means?”

“You know ‘dream’?”


“Dream, no good.”

“Ahhhh. Nightmare.  Full of nightmares!”

I also like to think that my bad English grammar, while doing nothing to help F. learn proper English, does wonders for my learning Italian grammar.

Becoming Italian Part Due (or I Should've Bribed the Bald Guy)

I think I know what my new questura boyfriend meant when he shouted, “Good luck!”  He meant, “Good luck getting the actual Permesso di Soggiorno, ever.” 

09 November 2011


My Italian leaves a lot to be desired.   Often, I know the words, but can’t get them out in the right order, or I don’t know what article to use or how to conjugate the verb.  Sometimes, it’s just my delivery. 

08 November 2011

Friday Market Day, San Benedetto del Tronto

 In San Benedetto, market days are Tuesdays and Fridays, from around 8a 'til noon-ish.  The vendors, of course,  must stop in time to pack up and get to wherever they're going to eat lunch at 1p.  We've discovered the best way to approach it and it is this:

Start along the lungomare, at the circle where the road turns toward the port.  These stalls are full of sweatpants, t-shirts, underwear, cheap jeans, pants and sweaters, knockoffs of the latest mall fashions and some used leather jackets.

Then, toward the pedestrian area, where you'll find vendors who've got overstock from the Grande Firme or maybe just items that've fallen off of trucks.  Miu Miu, Prada, Woolrich, G-Star.  Some name brand shoes.

Off the pedestrian area, on a little street heading north are the food trucks.  Porchetta, fried & dried fish, and these:

The woman behind the counter says to cut up the pig ears and sautee them in a pan with some tomatoes.  I didn't ask her how to prepare the feet. 

Maybe, pick up some olive oil,
some fruit and veg,

or some dried fish for bacala.

Then, it's thru the big parking lot of shoes, herbs, household goods and toys nearer the port.

Past the fishing boats, returned.

Past the empty crates and coiled up nets to the Mercato Ittico 

where you buy these:

Two kilos for 5 euros.  And you make the long walk home to pry open your bounty.

03 November 2011

Becoming Italian Part Uno (or Immigration, Man)

I knew that once I arrived in Italy, I had 8 days to present myself at the Questura to declare my presence and to find out how to get my stay permit (Permesso di Soggiorno).  I didn’t know where the Questura was, exactly, beyond a meaningless address in a city 2 hours away, written in my ever-present notebook.

02 November 2011

food facts, le marche edition

Italians are, um, particular about their food.  Growing up in NY, you learn this at an early age, surrounded by so many of them, all of whom believe their mother’s sauce is the best, their grandmother’s way of making [insert Italian-american dish here] is the ONLY way to make it.

Well, the East Coast Italian-American community’s got nothing on these folk.

Top 5 food-related facts of le Marche that I’ve learned:

1-Salt does not go into the pot of pasta water until the water’s all ready boiling.  I don’t know why this is, but it is.  To do so earlier is evidence of idiocy and/or poor upbringing.

2-You can put onions in a pan. You can put garlic in a pan. You cannot put them both in the same pan.  Some of those who choose to go with onion also remove it prior to serving whatever the actual dish is.

3-You can eat fish. Or you can eat meat. You cannot eat them at the same time, during the same meal.  “Terra e mare? Insieme? Mai!”  Bacon around a scallop would be blasphemous.
I’m dying to make the classic Surf & Turf of my youth.  A steak and a lobster tail on one plate. Totally blow their minds.

4-You never use butter.  Except, you do. Only you don’t admit it. Tagliatelle with truffle sauce?  Some chopped up truffle, some olive oil, a little bit of butter.  I know this because, in addition to the tons of butter you see at the grocery store, the waiter in town was explaining the recipe but left out the butter.  He gave it up when I pressed him, looking over his shoulder to see if anyone had heard..  Try to tell that to the folks around here who eat it, tho, and they’ll protest in horror.

5-Putting mustard on a bologna sandwich is a sin.  Adding cheese to that sandwich?  Beyond. Scandalous.

Forget about the “sauce” vs. “gravy” debate.  That's not a topic for a non-Italian like me, but know this:  here it’s sugo or salsa in general, ragu if meat’s involved. E Basta.  Now, the pronunciation of Italian ingredients in the US and who utters them correctly? Nobody there does, except maybe Mario Batali. Everyone else?  They’re speaking dialect (not Italian) and in NY, it’s usually the Naples variety.  Take that, every Italian-American I grew up with on Long Island who made fun of how I said “mozzarella”!

01 November 2011

vongole, panocchie, and cozze, oh my

This past weekend, we hung out at the beach in San Benedetto.  I had a gloriously flat run along the lungomare, the men cooked, I cleaned up (despite their half-hearted protests that I act like a "real" woman and cook--I think they remembered my attempt to make falafel) and, as I feel is my calling here, I dispelled yet another myth about America.


I was never a huge fan of Halloween. I think it may have started when we lived in Queens and the kids there "celebrated" by spraying each other with Nair.  Then, we moved to the suburbs, where shaving cream, eggs and the old, striped tube sock filled with flour and wielded like a medieval flail were the weapons of choice.  This made Halloween scary in a different way than originally intended, I think. 

Plus, the whole costume thing.  What to be? For some people, i understand dressing up is liberating. For me, terrifying.  What to "be"? Ugghhhh.

When I was little, maybe five or six years old, and we lived in the ex-urbs of Long Island (pre-Queens), my mom made matching bird costumes for my sister and me.  I distinctly remember the scratchy paper-mache of the heads.  I think the idea was that my sister would be Big Bird and, well, I was littler, so I was a little version of Big Bird.  I liked that. I didn’t have to choose.