So, Dave Freeman, author of “100 Things to Do Before You Die” died yesterday at the age of 47. Shocked that he was so young, it makes me think I might need to be more adventurous. Or at least do all the things on my lists of wants and wishes.
And so to inspire, I’ve found some Italian proverbs to get me off my arse and marking items off my checklist…
Chi non fa, non falla.
- Those who do nothing, make no mistakes.
Chi non risica, non rosica.
- Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Oggi in figura, domani in sepoltura.
- Here today, gone tomorrow.
Chi pò, non vò; chi vò, non pò; chi sà, non fà; chi fà, non sà; e così, male il mondo và.
- Who can do, don’t want to; who wants to, can’t do; who knows how to do, won’t do it; who does it, doesn’t know how to; and so badly goes the world.
Slightly inspiring, yet slightly disheartening. Hmmm. I’ll give you my own:
Vedi il mondo, vivi i tuoi sogni ed impari accettare che sarà, sarà. (See the world, live your dreams, and learn to accept whatever will be, will be.)
I was just hit with a real life test… and failed miserably. Sitting in my Burbank office, I just received a call from a man who only spoke Italian. For a fleeting moment, I thought this might be fun. I can do this. Yeah, not so much. My sparse Italian decided to jump from my brain and I was actually at a loss of words, even English ones. Though I learned halfway through the conversation he could have spoken Polish too if that would’ve worked.
Why was he calling me? Apparently he was looking for the President of Warner Bros. Though I may be on the Warner Bros Lot, il presidente is definitely not in my office. And frankly, not sure if he speaks Italian either. I just kept saying I’m sorry, I don’t know, this is the wrong number… did I mention, non parlo molto italiano?
I am still stunned at my lack of ability to communicate with that man. A little shamed, I must say. It has almost been a year since my trip to Italy, which made me feel pretty confident with at least getting by with my Italian. I believe this mystery man appreciated that I knew enough to tell him I didn’t understand and that I was sorry. Frustrated that I couldn’t use my hands to communicate, and both of us realizing the conversation was going absolutely no where, we quickly ended with a “ci vediamo”… though I don’t think we’ll actually be seeing each other later.
To quote my unknown Italian caller – “O mamma mia!”
I’ve lapsed on my Italian lessons. No eels in my hovercraft this time, but at least if I’m in Rome, I can get that cute waiter to come out for the night. But heck, these phrases would work here too if people spoke Italian with me. Go ahead, tell me your secrets.
Paesi che vai, usanze che trovi.
- The countries you visit, the customs you find. (When in Rome, do as the Romans do.)
Dimmi un segreto.
Se non è vero, è ben trovato.
- If it’s not true, it’s a good story.
Voglio vederti stasera.
- I want to see you tonight.
Lontano dagli occhi, lontano dal cuore.
- Far from the eyes, far from the heart. (Or out of sight, out of mind.)
So, here are a few things I’ve done over the past two days to further my path to Italian citizenship, as well as just to grab on to those nice Italian roots…
– Sent a letter off to Dr. Maria Concetta Fontana in Sicily begging for additional certified copies of birth certificates in order to right the wrongs of the Louisiana paper trail… here’s hoping my Italian makes sense to her.
– Emailed very distant cousin on my great-grandmother’s side of the family in hopes that he might have some information on when and where my grand-grandparents got married.
– Continually called the Italian Consulate in Los Angeles to make an appointment but to no avail… Alas, a Catch 22. Must make an appointment by phone, yet they don’t answer the phone. Oh, and they don’t accept voice mails either. Sigh.
– Chuckled to myself on some language hurdles:
- Piú means more. So at the end of a concert, when the crowd yells, “More! More!”, you’d say, “Piú! Piú!” If you yelled that here, the band might think you were saying they were terrible.
- The above then reminded me of when I was in Italy last year, I was asked how long I had known a mutual friend we were discussing. I said I had known him for one year. However, I pronounced it “ano” not “anno,” and laughter ensued from my Italian counterpart, as ano means anus.
– And I’ve started reading a collection of Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino.
So far I’ve only read his introduction and the first two folktales. Apart from my amusement with the two folktales, I am utterly intrigued with Calvino’s two year journey through history and small towns to put together the collection. I can totally see a film focused on Italo Calvino putting together all the folktales. It would be fun and whimsical, a sort of historical fairy tale… and perhaps starring Roberto Benigni. Though, maybe I shouldn’t mention my brilliant idea here, what if someone should read it and take it. Hmmm… I could be too late. Whoops.
What do you think?
…yeah, I thought so.
So, not checking your mail for several days can have its toll. Last week apparently, I received a letter from the Archdiocese of Galveston and Houston.
I am writing in response to your request for the marriage record of Liborio Marcello and Anna Liggio. I have checked the records of the Houston and Galveston parishes, but I find no record of their marriage between 1899 and 1901. If Anna Liggio was living in Dickinson, it is possible that a priest from Galveston traveled out to that area to witness the marriage, but he never recorded it in the parish registers.
I am sorry that we cannot provide the record that you are seeking, but I hope that this information is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Plan B, which was to check with church archives instead of county archives, has failed. I have now formed Plan C: Start searching all counties in the surrounding areas. Or Plan D: Determine if Italy will accept them as a common law marriage. They’re pretty sticky about such things, so my guess is no.
“Chi mangia bene, mangia italiano.”
I’ve been cooking quite a bit over the past year. My dear friend Gill and I have been saying we need to swap all our recipes. So here’s my first go at sharing some Italian love with my recipe for meatballs. And though my recipe usually varies depending on my mood, I’ve kind of taken to this version. Hope this makes sense…
1-2 lbs of ground beef or turkey
Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
Mix the ground meat, egg, and olive oil. I usually drizzle about three big circles of olive oil. Oh and you should just use your hands to mix the meat. Dig your fingers in. It kind of feels gross, but it’ll make you that much more connected to your food. Then you’re going to add the Tony’s and the breadcrumbs. Shake the Tony’s to cover the top layer of meat. And add about half a cup of breadcrumbs to start. Knead that all together, and if it’s too mushy add some more breadcrumbs. Not sure how to describe the consistency you’re going for… but basically you still want it a little slimy and moist but not a big gob of who knows what. Oh don’t forget to mix in the grated Pecorino cheese, it truly makes a difference. And feel free to be generous with the cheese. After it’s all mixed, you’ll roll into balls a tad larger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball. Drop in a skillet of hot olive oil. You’ll continually rotate on all sides. You want them to be crispy on the outside but still moist on the inside. Be careful not to burn.
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
3-4 basil leaves, chopped
1 small can tomato paste
Tony Chachere’s Original Seasoning
Pinch of Sugar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
In a medium size pot, drizzle olive oil to coat the bottom. Get the oil nice and hot, and add the onions and garlic. Once that’s started to cook down, add in the tomatoes and basil. Let that cook down and add the tomato paste. Then fill that empty can with water and add that too. Stir. Add several hefty shakes of the Tony’s seasoning, a few shakes of garlic powder, and a pinch of sugar. Throw in a splash or two of whatever red wine you plan on drinking with dinner. Stir and let simmer. Taste along the way until it’s how you like it, and hopefully you’re meatballs will be ready for pairing.
Serve with pasta or on a sandwich or just plain. Hope you enjoy! And if you don’t… don’t blame me.