I've been wanting to write about my incredible hostess, Tiziana. She lived in Australia from age 6 to age 24, but other than that, this woman is all Italy. Even her time in Australia was as an Italian immigrant, hanging out mostly with other immigrants, Italian or otherwise. She speaks Australian-accented English very well, but her heart is in Italy.
And, she seems to have a zillion ways that Italy can help me be a better person.
The Bikini - First on the list, of course, is the bikini. But, here's the deal. We didn't go to zillion shops at a zillion malls and exhaust ourselves. We went to the main mall in her town, to the one swimsuit shop, tried on the few options in my size with colors and styles I liked, and picked one. She emphasizes simplicity and easy flow.
Cooking - I've now received lessons on how to cook risotto, pasta (so many varieties), tiramisu, lasagna, and a frittata. Tiziana's ability to combine the food, pick fresh ingredients, and time the addition of salt or herbs really teaches me so much. Just today, during the frittata lesson, she said to let the zuchinni cook out its own juices then add the salt when it's about half cooked. She put freegin' nutmeg...in a frittata. Just a bit and it tasted so wonderful. She also said that mint is a nice option but she didn't have fresh mint so she didn't add it...to a frittata. Am I right? It's gotta be fresh, healthy, and honored - all the food.
Tiny Cars - I'm just gonna say, Italians are great drivers. Are Americans? Certainly, at times. And, we're dealing with different challenges like huge freeways, hundreds of cars around us, and large, complicated interchanges. In Italy, what's so darn impressive is people's agility and ability to park and drive in extra small spaces. They just figure it out. There's no freeway built for F150s. And, beyond that, ancient cities barely fit cars at times. So, Tiziana can park on a dime, and share a narrow "shouldn't this be a one-way?" road. It's impressive.
Non! - Certain things are just a no. Having cream in a pasta sauce? Non! Grating cheese onto a pasta dish that has fish in it? Non! Drinking a cappuccino with dinner? Non! (So American!) Having milk in your coffee, other than a macchiato (marked) or a cappuccino after 1 pm? Non! We have no's as well in the States, but there is something about the adamancy and the chin-dropped head shake that communicates utter certainty that no further discussion shall be tolerated. Non!
Let's... - Italians include each other in activities more often. There is less individual or alone time. Maybe it's just me, since I love-ah alone-ah time-ah. But, do I? I've been more social and go-along-to-get-along and it's nice. Tiziana, her son, her daughter, her sister, it's no big deal for them to include me in their lives. And, it's no big deal for the people in their lives to include me in their lives. It's a more-the-merrier culture, certainly compared to my Seattle circle, where people search their schedules and sigh as they can't seem to fit in another thing. Tiziana includes me in lots of stuff and I appreciate it.
Go Slow - I can really use support here. I often say that I was "raised in a hurry." I am used to hurrying. We Americans, in general, rush really well. We multi-task. We jam in the activities and exhaust ourselves. Italians? Non! There is an uncool vibe with hurrying. What's pleasant and respectful is to enjoy the moment, go slowly, allow others to take there time, and be calm, as needed. It does wonders for the nervous system. I can't count the number of times Tiziana said to me, "Don't worry. No rush." Thanks, Tiziana!