Back in July (July 4th, to be precise), we had dinner at “Caucci”, as the hotel/restaurant in the middle of the main “piazza” (really, now, the stretch of road on which you can park and choose to take your coffee from one of 3 bars or walk up the Corso where you’ll find 3 butchers, 2 bakers, a few hair salons) is known. Small town italy means businesses are known by the name of the person who owns them, not by the official name. Il Sole Pizzeria Ristorante is “Cappelli”; the Angolo di Fortuna, selling scratch-offs and cigarettes, is “Malaspina”; Bar dello Sport is “Laura”, etc.
So, there we are, eating our prosciutto crudo and cheese, drinking our wine, when D., the waiter, brings up what’s been brought up earlier that day, by everyone looking to have a conversation.
“Quattro Luglio. Indepence Day?”
Again, mentioned by others earlier in the day, “On this day, you eat turkey?”
This is funny for several reasons. The first of which is the Italians hear ”holiday” and immediately want to know what you eat to celebrate it. The second, an American holiday must mean turkey. Third, the Italians I’ve met all suffer from the same delusion that all I and my fellow Americans eat, ever, is hamburgers. And maybe hot dogs. And French fries. All covered in gobs and gobs of ketchup. With a side of more hamburgers.
This day, I tell them, is the hamburger holiday! On this day, we gather around the barbecue, at the beach, wherever we can, to indulge in that most American meal of hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad and beer. Strangely, they’re not impressed. I bet it’s ‘cause they think we don’t know how to celebrate a holiday, what with eating the same things we eat everyday.
Next, I explained that turkey is for thanksgiving. Which is in November. D., F., and E. all offered their tidbits on what that involves. In Italian, so I was a bit lost, comprehension-wise. I got something about the turkey. And the leg. And putting the leg in the oven. Wait. I explained, half in English, half in Italian, it’s not just the turkey leg….we cook the whole turkey. In the oven.
“Questo e mazzo!”
This is mad! Total disbelief. The craziest thing they ever heard. Maybe Italian turkey’s are bigger than ours?
I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough. Thanksgiving is now just around the proverbial corner.
Or maybe, I'll just make a chicken.