Saturday, December 20, 2008

A White Christmas

getting ready for the snow!!! (As you can see in the following pictures, my youngest never made it out there!)

the first of three snowmen that got progressively larger as the snow kept falling!

look at that - at least 10 inches!

Anyone from Vegas knows snow is a RARITY.....but last week it snowed twice! We live closer to the mountains so we got about 8 or 10 inches and it's still here! I know it has nothing to do with la bella italia, but I thought I'd share our snowy photos with you all!

Plus it's pretty funny thinking about how my husband's ride home from work consisted of getting snuck in the snow and rolling on the ice!!! Then, he had to park his car down the street and walk home because it wouldn't make it up the hill!!! Poor guy...he loved it though! Now we have the story to tell our kids when times are tough - "Hey, kids, you think life is hard? We had to walk uphill in the snow, barefoot!"

Okay maybe not barefoot, but it makes the story sound better right?

Well, I hope wherever you are your families enjoy a wonderful Christmas - white or not!

I know our Christmas will be full of family, fun, and food!! So, I will definitely follow up with recipes and pictures after the holidays! Until then,

Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo !

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Paisano's Blog

I never would have thought that my entrance into the blogging world several months ago would bring me to where I am today.

The exposure for my articles has been great and I can't thank you all enough for reading them. I also LOVE reading your comments....sharing these Italian family memories and traditions is the best way to spread the culture.

Well, all this blogging has led me to a new friend who enjoys spreading the culture as much as una mamma italiana! He goes by "Domenico" and his blog is full of great recipes and stories. A word of advice, don't read it while you're hungry!

Anyways, "Cucina Domenico" is sure to be your new favorite go-to blog for recipes of all kinds. He is a fellow paisano and I applaud him for keeping traditions alive...... Bravo Domenico!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Commercialized

Well, Una Mamma has been at it again....revealing my very opinionated self in my articles!

My newest article focuses on the commercialization of the Christmas season. Perhaps you might not realize how bad it really is until you get pushed over in the mall by a crazed holiday shopper. Hopefully, you won't have to suffer that - just read my article instead:)

It's my little way of remembering what Christmas is really supposed to be about. I'm sure you all know people who try to outdo each other every year with the biggest and best gift. Well, personally, I would be happy with a thoughtful card or a token from the dollar store. It does NOT make me happy to know someone spent a bunch of money on me just to fulfill their deeply rooted psychological need to impress people. Know what I mean?

Anyways, let's all try to keep the true spirit of giving in the forefront this year. And please, comment and share your own family's Christmas traditions. You never know what it might mean to someone else.

My article, "Christmas Commercialized," appears on

Or you can access the article directly by clicking here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Una Mamma's Christmas Card

So this is the time of year that I send out all my Christmas cards to family and friends. I didn't want to leave all of you out, so here it is. Una Mamma's e-card! This was the photo we included in each envelope to give everyone an updated picture of la famiglia! A dear friend of mine takes such great photos for our family and we had to show them off!
Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Friday, December 5, 2008

A late followup on Thanksgiving!

What a spread......

As you can see, we had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. And now, a whole week later, we arejust as thankful that the madness is over (and so are the leftovers!) But what a day. We spent the day eating a fabulous (early) dinner at my parent's house. This was, of course, preceded by a game of tackle football in the yard, in which my son's jeans were ruined with grass stains (thanks honey).

Nonetheless, I love that they hosted Thanksgiving because it took a lot of the burden off of me!! I did, however, bring the sweet potatoes (recipe to follow) which were quite tasty if I do say so myself...
Then we went for dessert at my in-laws' which was especially great for my kids because almost all of their cousins were there (9 of them...which totals 12 kids in one house - most under the age of 7!) It was chaos (but great) which is why I was able to take NO pictures that night:)
But, as promised, here's the recipe for those sweet potatoes:


1 5lb. bag of sweet potatoes
3 TB pure maple syrup
2 TB brown sugar
3 TB melted butter
cayenne pepper
black pepper
sea salt

Peel and cube the sweet potatoes. Combine remaining ingredients and toss cubed potatoes until coated. (Use salt and pepper according to your taste, although the beauty of this dish is the spicy with the sweet)

Spread onto a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until tender and slightly browned on the edges.
Now, mangia!
I hope you all had as wonderful a Thanksgiving as I did. I would love to hear your recipes!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The WORST thing you could ever do to an Italian...

So the polls have closed, the results are in......And it looks like the WORST thing you could do to an Italian is serve them a plate of rinsed pasta topped with Ragu or Prego or some other sacrilegious jarred sauce. And when I say "topped" I mean topped, not TOSSED.

Utter disgrace. You probably know my opinions by now on pasta that is not tossed in with the sauce. If not, click here.

I hope that now the world will see this food faux pas and never again attempt to serve an Italian (or any human) this embarrassment of a meal.

It should also be noted that the two answers that tied for second place were turning down an invitation for food of any kind and calling them a derogatory name (i.e. wop, gavon, etc.).

Making fun of their mamma came in last....this is dispappointing considering the importance of this issue. But, despite it's apparent insignificance with the voters, let this serve as a warning - no one better make fun of this mamma.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Twas the night before Thanksgiving....

'Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house,
three little creatures were stirring, (though I'd prefer a mouse).

The turkey was thawing in the sink with care
And by this time of night, I've lost most of my hair.

For the children were long overdue for their beds,
and visions of Hawaii danced in my head.

But still, in the kitchen I calmly remained
to continue the cooking, the baking, the pain.

Cuz this mamma is tired, she's huffing and puffing
just to get throught the cranberry sauce and the stuffing.

For this meal won't come from a box or a can
It's a homemade Thanksgiving - every dish, every pan... a masterpiece made with much hard work and love
to remind us to be thankful for all from above.

So despite all the blood, sweat, and tears, it's worthwhile
just to see my whole family full of turkey and smiles.

So on the eve of this feast, let us never lose sight
of all of our blessings.... and with that said,


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Things that bug me

Everyone's got 'em, and I'm no exception:


Those who know me are UNfortunate enough know all the things that bug me:

-leftover food in the sink (it belongs in the trash, my friends)
-when the sheets get all messed up under the covers
-nose pickers (all three of my children)
-dust (it bugs me, but I rarely do anything about it...I mean, cleaning it)
-jarred sauce (it's a waste of too much oregano)
-nails on a chalkboard
-grinding teeth
-cheese that doesn't melt

Okay, this is just a short list, but this last one is my BIGGEST pet peeve right now. I've lately been confronted with issues buying cheese for my family. Mozarella, Romano, Parmiggiano, you name it.

Have you ever bought that pre-shredded cheese that you put on top of lasagne and it stays in the exact same shape...? I mean, it doesn't melt. It just looks like slightly wilted shreds of mozarella that frighteningly resemble plastic or something.

I can't stand it. It is gross. Why? because it's not real cheese. Just like the parmesan stuff in the green plastic container. How does anyone use this stuff without gagging? The only difference between this and the mozarella is that it's grated shavings of plastic. What is the culinary world coming to?

I can't even get good quality grated romano cheese at the grocery store. I have to go to a specialty Italian deli. And you can never buy pre-shredded cheese. For those of you who are lazy like me, this is a very sad realization to come to....but believe me, the arm workout that self-grating requires is worth it.

Before long, it's going to be almost impossible to find quality Italian food. There's one place I know of that still has some of the best imported stuff, In the near future I'll be posting about some great salami and hot chili pepper jam they sell....stop drooling, "I'll be updating soon. Any other pet peeves worth venting over? I'd love to hear them:)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Italian Childrens' Books!

No true Italian could ever forget reading Strega Nona as a kid. It's that heartwarming tale of how an old witch lady from Calabria and the infamous Anthony make her famous soup. In a desperate quest for Italian stories for kids, I recently found out that the talented author of these books, Tomie DePaola, has actually written a series of Strega Nona stories (as well as many others) for the very purpose that Una Mamma Italiana exists - to keep Italian culture alive.
He even has a Befana story.....and if you're not familiar with the legend of La Befana, keep an eye out for my December Article in La Voce!! (

That's what's so great about his stories - they are all about culture. Well, we LOVE Tomie for that. And...he even has a selection of Christmas stories that would make GREAT gifts this year. I am ordering the entire line for my kids this year. You can find some great deals on used books on Amazon, and I'll even bet ebay has a selection. To buy directly from Tomie's own hometown bookstore, go to where very copy you purchase is autographed by Tomie. Just click on "Tomie DePaola."

Here is a list of titles & prices form them for his Christmas/Thanksgiving/Religious/Easter books only. This is not even his entire selection of books and look how cute some of the stories sound! I can't wait to build up a library of these.
(list courtesy of Morgan Hill Bookstore)

Check out his personal site for so much more info!

Angels Angels Everywhere (14.99)
Christopher the Holy giant (17.95/6.95)
The Clown of God (16.00/7.00)
Country Angel Christmas (16.95)
Francis Poor Man of Assisi (18.95/9.95)
Get Dressed Santa (a board book 6.99)
Guess Who's Coming to Santa's for Dinner? (16.99/6.99)
The Holy Twins (18.99)
Legend of Old Befana An Italian Christmas Story (16.00/6.00)
Legend of the Poinsettia (16.99/6.99)
Mary the Mother of Jesus (16.95)
My First Thanksgiving (a board book 6.99)
The Night before Christmas (6.95)
Night of Las Posadas (16.99/6.99)
Parables of Jesus (8.95)
Pascual and the Kitchen Angels (16.99/5.99)
Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland (17.95/6.95)
Petook An Easter Story (16.95)
Tomie's Little Christmas Pagent (a board book 7.99)

To all other "Mamma Italianas" out there --- you owe this to your children...Italian bedtime stories are just one more way to keep the traditions alive in your families. Salute!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November's Issue of La Voce

The November issue of La Voce has been out in print for a while, but I am happy to announce that it is now available for viewing online. There's a couple of cute kids on the cover, and the articles inside aren't half bad either!

Take a look at my latest article about Thanksgiving, "A Miracle In Your Mouth" under the tab "Mamma Mia!"

Or you can directly access my article by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes

Now that election chaos is finally over, I can focus on something other than just the news, and that is....


November marks the true beginning of the holidays for me. Despite the fact that I begin listening to Christmas music in October, it doesn't feel quite real until November weather settles in and the stores fill with Christmas decor. Cold nights, comfy sweaters, and pumpkin pie always means that my two favorite holidays are around the corner:

Thanksgiving and Christmas!

This year we'll inevitably spend the season visiting with family, giving thanks, shopping for presents & making presents (we do a lot of homemade Christmas gifts in our family!) and, of course, a lot of eating. What could be better than that? But we all know such a busy time of year requires lots of planning, so I wanted to give everyone a head start with one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes. These are a hit every year with my family, and they're so simple, even the kids love them. As a rule, whichever of my kids helps me cook is promised the first taste. Here, Gabriella got a sample before the potatoes went into the oven.

(“Italian family-sized” recipe)

· 5lb potatoes
· 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
· 8 oz milk
· 1/2 - 1 stick butter, melted
· 12 oz asiago cheese, shredded
· Salt & pepper to taste

· Peel, cube, and boil potatoes until tender.
· Whip mascarpone cheese, milk, and butter together.
· In a separate bowl, begin to mash the potatoes with an electric mixer, slowly adding the cheese mixture until desired consistency. (mixture will thicken in baking)
· Butter a casserole dish and fill with the mashed potatoes.
· Sprinkle asiago cheese to coat.
· Bake at 400 degrees until bubbly and golden.

This recipe was also published in November's issue of La Voce Newspaper, under my column, "Mamma Mia!"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Preserving the Family Meal

There is nothing more important to me than my family. Being together has made my life's greatest memories. My family is what motivates me to get things done, but ironically, is also the reason I can't get anything done! (Other "mammas" know what I mean) What ends up suffering the most for me is housework and dinner!

Let's be honest, fast food its just easier sometimes.....after all, it's fast. But unfortunately, by pushing the family meal off the priority list, I think we are missing out on much more than we can even see.

That's what inspired me to write my latest article, "Preserving The Family Meal." publishes my articles under the column titled, UNA MAMMA ITALIANA. Or you can CLICK HERE to go directly to the article.

Take a look, and please let me know what you think! And tonight, enjoy a dinner together with your family...

Monday, November 3, 2008

The BEST Arrabiata Sauce Ever

So Arabiatta sauce won the poll for favorite sauce. Literally meaning "angry," arrabiata is known for it's spiciness - something very popular in my Italian famiglia.

So I have researched and taste tested several recipes just to be able to provide you with the very best variety of the traditional arrabiata sauce. And you've got to serve it with penne or it would just break my heart (and the hearts of Italians everywhere).

Everyone better give this recipe a shot because I promise you, your eyes will water not only at the spiciness, but at the mere beauty of enjoying such buon cibo!
Buon Appetito!


1TSP olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
5 cloves minced garlic (use more if you're like me)
1/2 cup red wine
2 TB brown sugar (the sweet secret!)
2 TB chopped fresh basil
1 small can tomato paste
1 1/2 TSP crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 TSP ground black pepper
2 large cans crushed tomatoes
2 TB chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)

Heat oil in large skillet. Saute onion and garlic for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the wine, sugar, basil, red pepper flakes, tomato paste, black pepper. Combine.

Mix in the crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 2o minutes (uncovered).

Mix into UNRINSED penne (I like the penne rigate, the sauce just sticks better!) and top with the chopped parsley.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

New Poll Ideas?

I'm not sure if this happened to any of you guys, but my latest blog poll over the best pasta sauce caused a few fights in my house. My son was pulling for vodka sauce until Arrabiatta made a quick comeback and took home the prize.

(The victory is made obvious by my daughter pouncing on my son in the above wrestling match.)

So congratulations to arrabiatta sauce for being everyone's number one. I guess a lot of us just like it hot! I know I love spicy sauce...whether it makes you sweat, or cry, or get the hiccups (weird, I know, but it happens to my husband every time he eats spicy food) a little heat is always worth it!

So while I search my family recipes for the BEST variety of arrabiatta sauce I can find, I would like to ask you to do some research:
I would love to hear what you think the next poll should be.

Let's face it, we all have questions about Italian food or traditions that need answers, and I'd love to hear what boggles all of your minds!

Post ideas in the comments for this post, I hope to have a new poll up next week. Thanks everyone! CIAO!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Italian Signs Craft Project

As a "mamma italiana" I am always looking for projects to do with my kids. This is a great one for the little helpers, but the payoff is the best part. With this easy Italian Sign Craft, you can create a great decor item for your house or even a great Christmas gift for your Italian amici.

For this craft, simply go to your local craft store and buy individual wood letters with a flat bottom. (They will need to stand flush on a wood base)

Spell out any of your favorite words, or even your last name!

For the base, any thin piece of flat wood will do. I chose a scrap from my garage, but for the size you'll need, you can find them at a home improvement store for next to nothing.

Place the letters onto the wood base as you want them to appear. Usually these letters have holes in the bottom so you can use a small screw to affix each letter to the base. otherwise, a strong wood glue will work just fine.

Allow to dry, then spray paint the entire piece in your color of choice. The finished product is just as nice as those fancy, expensive signs you find at home decor stores. I did the word "AMORE" for under $10.00.

These are great gifts too. If you know a family with not too long of a last name, you can really come up with a cheap yet thoughtful Christmas gift. Here are some more great word ideas:

Display your favorite place in Italy:
Italia, Roma, Venezia, Firenze, etc

These are great above the cabinets, on a shelf, or even on the counter. I display my "Amore" sign on my fridge!
Cucina, Cibo, Vino, Pasta, Salute, Amore

The possibilites are endless. If music is not your hobby, name whatever you love and display that!

This is such an easy project that costs nearly nothing but leaves a lasting impression. With the holidays around the corner, this could save you lots of shopping! Please comment with your word ideas......CIAO!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I don't know if it's the time of year or the fact that Italy is arguably the most beautiful place on earth...but I have been having these uncontrollable cravings for Italy.

I just want to be there. I don't care where in Italy (although the Ponte Vecchio in Florence could make for some great Christmas shopping!) I just want to be The air is different there. Perhaps it's the feeling you get being in a place where you can find the best of all Italian food on every corner. Then you can shop in the finest stores, see the most beautiful sights, and eat again! And just when you think you've eaten too much, it's time for an afternoon nap. Oh, how I long for the Italian lifestyle....

Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy my American freedoms. It only takes one trip to Italy to realize that people only hang their clothes on the line to dry because washers/dryers are rarely found in homes. No one's taking that modern convenience away from me, no sir. You won't see me washing three kids' laundry by hand and drying each piece on my balcony.

So, for that reason alone (Okay, and maybe a few others) I don't think I could live in Italy all year long.

But spending 6 months a year in a vacation villa in Tuscany? Now you might have me convinced. I think the following pictures could twist anyone's arm. These were taken by my very talented Aunt Josie, who has a great eye with the camera.

Don't tell me you aren't craving a trip to Italy now......

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Homemade Bread Recipe

There's nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread. It always reminds me of my grandmother's kitchen. Somehow - without any measurements or calculations - she got it just right every time. And even though I've tried making it myself, it never turns out like hers. Hers was the best.

But while spending this week visiting with my sister-in-law, I must admit that her recipe comes in a close second. We (actually, she) spent most of the afternoon mixing, kneading, and baking fresh loaves of bread to feed all twelve of us. (There are eight children between our two families!)

But even with a full house we can always find time for buon cibo. Having several little helpers is always a bonus! My daughter, who we call the "carb machine," (she lives for pasta and bread) enjoyed making and eating it more than anyone.

This recipe is so easy and very tasty. It makes a great sponge for soaking up your favorite pasta sauce....


1 TB extra virgin olive oil

2 TB salt

3 1/2 cups very warm water

4 1/2 TSP (or two packages) yeast

7 cups of flour

Dissolve yeast completely in the warm water. In a separate large bowl, combine salt and olive oil. Add five cups of flour. Add the yeast/water mixture. Mix thoroughly. Then add remaining two cups of flour while mixing.

Knead until springy and a nice dough is formed. Grease the sides and bottom of the bowl, replace dough. Let rise (covered) for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

Once risen, think of something that makes you very angry, then punch the dough down with your fist. Knead again. Place dough on lightly floured surface and knead again (Trust me , it's worth it). Divide the dough into four equal parts. Knead each ball of dough individually.

Grease two sheet pans with olive oil & butter and sprinkle with cornmeal. Roll out each ball into a large rectangle. Then roll the dough lengthwise, folding the ends and pinching the seams as you roll. Once rolled, smooth out the loaf by rolling it a few times on the floured surface to ensure that there are no holes in the loaf. Place loaves on pan(s) and let rise for about 40 minutes.

Once risen, set oven to 400 degrees and bake for 20 minutes.

Makes four loaves total.

You will surely want to double the recipe since it will likely be halfway gone as soon as it's out of the oven.

Even if you aren't a "carb machine," freshly baked bread is irresistible.

Don't believe me? I think my nephew's face says it all----->

"Che bellisima!"

Friday, October 17, 2008

Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini

October 17, 2008

Today is a very special day for Italians.....It is the feast of Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini - the very first American citizen to become a saint. And guess what? She was Italian!

Born Maria Francesca Cabrini in 1850, her health was bad from the beginning. She was brought straight to the church for baptism. No one ever thought she would lead a long life of tremendous influence.

In Italy, She lived in the village in Sant' Angelo on the outskirts of Lodi, about 20 minutes from Milan. As a child she dreamed of becoming a missionary. In play, all of her dolls became nuns. When she got older, she was schooled in Italy and graduated with honors as a teacher.

The rest of her life brought many travels around the world. At the age of 27, she took her vows and became the mother superior of an Italian orphanage. This was just the beginning of her influential social work.

In 1889, she was moved to New York without knowing a word of English. She learned the language and helped the Italians who had immigrated there already. In 1909, after years of teaching and caring for the sick, she fulfilled her desire to become an American citizen.

In her lifetime, she founded sixty-seven hospitals, orphanages, and schools around the world. Because of her social outreach to the Italians in both Italy and America, she is known widely as the patron saint of immigrants and schoolteachers.

Mother Cabrini has sent a strong message to Italian-Americans throughout her life and even now, after her death. She was undoubtedly a strong woman with a big heart who conquered many obstacles of her time for selfless reasons. It seems that what these strong women of history have in common is that they are always giving. All of the talents she acquired were used to help others.

Much like a mother, she ruled over her postulants, she cared for her sick 'children,' and she helped to teach people of all ages. So in her own way, Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini was a very special "una mamma italiana!"

Thursday, October 16, 2008


This post announces the debut my very own "button" on! Go to the site (which is extremely informative, by the way) and then look for the link to my articles on the left hand side. It is labeled none other than "Una Mamma Italiana." There may only be two articles right now, but watch out, people....there are many more stories stored in una mamma italiana's crazy mind.

So please take a look! You'll find my bio and many future articles about everything Italian. And please note: these articles will all be different that those seen in my column for La Voce! So everything there is new and exciting!
And since I can write about pretty much anything I want, it should be quite interesting!
For direct access to my "home page" on italiansrus, click here.

CIAO for now!

Monday, October 13, 2008

To Rinse Or Not To Rinse

Even if you're not Italian, I'm pretty sure you've boiled a pot of pasta before. But who would have thought that such an event could jeopardize a marriage....

Situation #1: My husband loves to rinse the pasta after it has drained. I think that is simply sacrilegious. He can't stand the taste of it not rinsed. I can't stand cold pasta that tastes like tap water. If I'm not tossing it in sauce right away (see situation #2), then I at least prefer to toss it in olive oil, without rinsing. I've consulted my cousin (a grad of the Culinary Institute) on this one. He says rinsing is reserved only for those desperate moments where you fear you've overcooked the pasta and must stop the cooking process at all costs. Note the term: "desperate."

Situation #2: My husband does not like his pasta tossed in the sauce. Now this problem, though severe, is not as bad as the first because he has relented many times over the years. Nonetheless I still find myself dishing out a plate of plain pasta for him before I toss the rest.

To me, this is just plain disgusting. Why would you want only some of your pasta to have sauce? You're just going to end up mixing it in your plate anyway....and it's like our parents always told us when we couldn't have foods touch in the plate - it's all going to the same place anyway. So why use it as a topping? You might as well not even call it sauce. It would then have to be classified among things like chocolate syrup and honey. As if sauce was meant to be drizzled slightly over a plate of plain pasta? What nonsense!

So you might have assumed that I prefer to toss my unrinsed pasta in the sauce before serving. That is only normal...which, of course, makes my husband weird. (which is no secret, people)

Needless to say pasta night has turned into a battle in our house. Each of us races to the sink after the pasta has drained. I usually have one of the kids distract him. He usually pretends like he wants to "help me out" by taking over pasta duty. But by now we've learned each other's sneaky tricks.

And although I love my picky, Americanized husband, I must quote Sarah Palin and say, "Never again to his selfish rinsing plot disguised as a help offering. Never again will I be taken advantage of."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

All Natural Air Freshener

Spending hours cooking a good meal should not mean spending hours with it's lingering smell. It's one thing to smell garlic cooking when you walk in for dinner....but all night long? That can be annoying. And it's the worst when you've fried something. For example, I made a rather large batch of polpettini yesterday and have been smelling the grease ever since.
The cure? An all natural air freshener....

Bring a small pot of water to a boil.


cinnamon sticks

groung ginger

ground cloves


lemon peel

Let simmer.

I do this after a big meal and it makes the house smell so cozy! It's the perfect scent for the coming season too! And it lasts....I leave the pot covered and re-use it all day long. Just turn on the heat when you need a stronger scent. But you'll be surprised at how fast this freshens up your home!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How Italians are different

Let's face it, we love 'em, but too many "med-e-gones," (also known as "americans") are not quite like a good old Italian friend.....

American friends: never take your food.
Italian friends: are the reason you have no food.

American friends: call your mother "Mrs..."
Italian friends: call your mother "mamma."

American friends: have never seen you cry.
Italian friends: cry with you.

American friends: will call first, then knock on your door.
Italian friends: will walk right in, then open your fridge.

American friends: borrow your stuff for a few days then give it back.
Italian friends: borrow your stuff so long they forget it's yours.

American friends: know a few things about you.
Italian friends: could write a novel with direct quotes by you.

American friends: have mothers who formally invite you over for dinner.
Italian friends: have mothers who threaten you to eat dinner before you wither away to nothing.

American friends: are for a while.
Italian friends: are for life.

American friends: will read this and giggle.
Italian friends: will read it and send it to their mother, father, cousin, aunt, uncle and neighbor.....and then say they wrote it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Anyone who has been to Italy and asked for ice may be able to relate to me with this one. If not, you are about to learn a very important lesson.

So we're sitting outside at an Italian restaurant in the summer. As you can imagine, the mediteranean weather had us hot and "sudato" (sweaty). To cool off, we did what any average American would do - we asked for some ice cold water. A simple request, right?


In Italy, like in many European countries, they drink water at room temperature because it is essentially healthier for you. You can drink larger quantities when it's not so cold (allowing for good hydration). Also, drinking water at room temperature increases your metabolism (so they say). So from a health perspective, you might begin to understand why "ice cold" is not the norm.....

Unless, of course, you were still hot and growing increasingly irritated.

So after getting our glasses of water, we had to call the "cameriere" (waiter) over again to ask for some "ghiaccio" (ice). <-----find out how to ask for ice in the 'word of the week' on the sidebar! So anyway, when all is said and done, the waiter brings out some ice (I'm talking 4 cubes for a table of 6 people) on a plate. Yes, a plate. And as I said before, the weather was hot so you can imagine that this little bit of ice didn't last long. But hey, at least we learned our lesson, right?

Take our word for it and don't make this same mistake in your travels. That way you'll keep whatever dignity an American tourist in Italy has!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Le Cinque Palle - An Italian Life Lesson

Everyone knows Italians got it figured out, but in case you had any doubts, read on:
Le Cinque Palle
The Lesson of The Five Balls:
Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you're keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to realize that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls - family, health, friends, integrity - are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered. And once you truly understand the lesson of "le cinque palle," you will have achieved the beginnings of balance in your life.
Life is precious, and so is la famiglia. So try to keep this going, email it to friends via the little envelope link under this post. After all, it is a lesson that is sometimes hard to remember, and sometimes harder to learn.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Columbus Day Crafts

As we all know, Columbus Day is coming up and it's a great opportunity for us to celebrate our Italian Heritage. Wondering what to do? How about some fun holiday crafts:

Colored Pasta Flags

A great way to teach the kids colors, types of pasta,
and even the flags!

Soak dried pasta in a bowl of water and a few drops of food
coloring for 1-2 minutes.
Remove pasta, drain on a paper towel. (Repeat this step with a variety of pastas and colors)

Glue the colored pasta on cardboard in the design of the Italian and American flags, using fettucine as the flagpole.

Display as Columbus Day decoration!

Easy Italian Coasters

These are the easiest thing to make, and would be a great favor/giveaway for your guests. You can find tiles like these for 35 cents, paint them, and seal them with a spray polyurethane. Line the bottom with felt (glue it on) and you're good to go!

Italia Trivets

These can become a really classy creation. Find your favorite photo of Italy, or paint your own. When you paint it or glue it onto the tile, spray with two coats of polyurethane spray. Let dry. Line the bottom with felt. The perfect trivet for those hot pots of pasta!

Crafts are a great learning tool for kids and adults alike! These simple crafts with an Italian twist will make Columbus Day a feast to remember! Check out more celebration ideas here.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Pollo Romano

After Romano and Parmigiano tied in the poll, I promised a tribute post to each cheese. Now for Romano's -

Pollo Romano

This is a very simple and quick recipe for chicken with a cheesy, creamy sauce. It is such a quick fix for those nights that you have to whip dinner up in a breeze and it is almost impossible to mess it up. So here it goes:

Trim, de-vein, and season four chicken breast with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and italian seasoning

Add a few TB olive oil to a skillet

Brown the chicken breasts on both sides

Add in 1-2 cups of heavy whipping cream

(Remember to watch your heat, I suggest keeping it on medium from here on out)

sprinkle a few heaping TB of grated romano cheese over the chicken until all of it is covered. While cooking, the cheese will melt into the cream and thicken it.

Let the cream bubble, the cheese melt, and the chicken cook all the way through (about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts)

When you plate the chicken, save all that creamy goodness to pour on top

OPTIONAL - at the end, you could put the whole pan under the broiler for a couple minutes and get that cheese really bubbling! (either way, though, you'll get a tasty gravy!)

See what I mean? Super Easy and very tasty. But that's no surprise considering romano makes everything taste great! Buon Appetito!
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