Natale in Tempo di Crisi

Posted on 22. Dec, 2014 by in Culture, Food

The serious economic crisis that Italy is undergoing is making itself felt this Christmas, and it seems that people are beginning to think more carefully about how they spend their money. But perhaps that’s not a bad thing. Let’s face it, Christmas has become a confusing and, in my opinion, obscene mish mash of religious piety and consumer over indulgence …. well, don’t let me get started ……….
Anyway, I liked the following little news article because it seems to show that in hard times a bit of common sense can prevail, or perhaps I’m just a romantic idealist ……………….

Natale, boom di regali enogastronomici: spumanti e dolci i più donati
Christmas, enogastronomic (big fancy word for food and wine) presents are booming: spumanti and cakes are the most frequently given

cesto natalizio

Count down per il Natale 2014. Cosa regaleranno quest’anno gli italiani? Beh, in tempo di crisi si pensa soprattutto ai prodotti enogastronomici.
Count down to Christmas 2014. What presents are the Italians giving each other this year? Well, in times of crisis one thinks mostly of food and wine products (hang on, how is that different from any other time in Italy?)

In base a una recente indagine condotta da Coldiretti, 4 italiani su 10 doneranno a parenti ed amici cesti natalizi pieni di cibi e bevande. Insomma, la crisi fa tornare alle vecchie abitudini. Coldiretti sottolinea che i prodotti che verranno regalati maggiormente saranno dolci, spumante, frutta secca e fresca, olio extra vergine, zampone, lenticchie e salumi.
Based on a recent survey carried out by Coldiretti (Confederazione Nazionale Coltivatori Diretti = National Federation of Direct Cultivators), 4 out of 10 Italians will be giving Christmas hampers full of food and drinks to family and friends. In short, the crisis is making people go back to the old ways. Coldiretti points out that the most common products to be given as presents will be cakes, spumante, dried and fresh fruit, extra virgin olive oil, stuffed pigs trotters (yuk!), lentils and cold meats.


Molti italiani, inoltre, doneranno anche dolci fatti in casa. “Per la prima volta dall’inizio della crisi la spesa agroalimentare ha superato i regali”, ha evidenziato Coldiretti. Gli italiani, a quanto pare, sborseranno più di 4 milioni di euro in regali enogastronomici tra Natale e Capodanno. Per una volta le vecchie tradizioni prevalgono sulla ‘fame’ di tecnologia.
What’s more, many Italians will be giving home made cakes (yes please!). “For the first time since the beginning of the crisis money spent on agribusiness (another big fancy word for food products) has exceeded (other) presents. It seems that the Italians will be paying out more than 4 million euros for food and drink related presents during Christmas and New Year. For once, old traditions will prevail over the ‘hunger’ for technology. (I think that was meant to be a pun).

If you’d like to read more about the potentially positive effects of the economic crisis here’s another interesting article (in Italian, but not too difficult): Natale – Coldiretti

Now, if only things would continue in this direction perhaps I’d actually begin to like Christmas again. Winking smile

Top Italian Internet Searches 2014

Posted on 16. Dec, 2014 by in Culture

Every year trillions of searches are carried out on the internet. Google Trends analyses samples of these searches and tells us which of them are currently the most common. If you want to know more, follow this link: A Year In Search 2014.

So, what have we been searching for, and do the results tell us anything about ourselves? I thought it might be fun to compare three categories of search results from the two cultures that I know best: Italy and The United Kingdom. I’ve chosen: 1. Recipes, 2. Holiday destinations, and 3. How To …?. The results are pretty interesting, as you can see below.

Category 1. Most Searched For Recipes

Italia Regno Unito (The U.K.)

1. Chiacchiere
2. Piadina romagnola
3. Castagnole
4. Brownies
5. Rainbow cake
6. Uova ripiene
7. Guacamole
8. Bagels
9. Crema vulcanica
10. Sanguinaccio

1. Burgers
2. Shortbread
3. Gingerbread
4. Flapjacks
5. Lasagne
6. Pancakes
7. Carbonara
8. Daag
9. Scones
10. Tiramisu

Not surprisingly (for me at least) over half of the most sought after recipes in Italy are traditional Italian dishes. At number 1 we have the simple, but ever popular chiacchiere (literally: chats). Never heard of them? Here’s a little background information with a recipe from Serena: Chiacchiere di Carnevale

Interestingly, but once again not surprisingly, three out of the top ten recipes searched for in the UK are Italian.

Chiacchiere, Photo Public Domain by Clop

Category 2. Most Searched For Holiday Destinations

Italia Regno Unito (The U.K.)

1. Gozo
2. Sochi
3. Pesaro
4. Pozzallo
5. Pag
6. Tropea
7. Metaponto
8. Varazze
9. Krk
10. Cattolica

1. Paris
2. New York
3. Australia
4. Spain
5. Cornwall
6. Italy
7. Turkey
8. Dubai
9. Amsterdam
10. Tenerife

Whereas the British seem to be attracted to big foreign cities when they search for their holiday destinations (Paris, New York, Amsterdam, Dubai), the Italians seem to stay much closer to home. Of the ten destinations most searched for on Google by Italians six are located in Italy. Then we have Gozo, which is an island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea, whilst both Krk and Pag are Croatian islands in the northern Adriatic Sea.

Category 3. Most Searched For ‘How To …’?

Italia Regno Unito (The U.K.)

1. Barbecue
2. Ciambelle
3. Refil
4. Tortellini
5. Malocchio
6. Sugo
7. Orecchini
8. Politica
9. Scoubidou
10. Hennè

1. Draw
2. Kiss
3. Crochet
4. Meditate
5. Knit
6. Twerk
7. Squat
8. Shuffle
9. Revise
10. Wallpaper

You’re never far from food in Italy, and if you’re not eating it you’re probably talking about it! Of the ten top ‘how to …?’ searched carried out by Italians five are food related. Then in fifth place we have Malocchio. You can find out more about this superstitious tradition in our blog: La Scaramanzia.

Here’s an amusing tongue in cheek video demonstrating how to discover whether someone has been cursed with Il Malocchio. Click on the image above to watch.

‘How to …?’ searches carried out in the UK seem pretty generic, and none of them are edible. The only result that in my opinion stands out as being fairly distinctively British is number ten ‘How to Wallpaper?’. Wallpaper is not very common here in Italy but absolutely ubiquitous in the UK.

Finally, I’m a bit worried that in second place in the UK charts we find ‘How to Kiss?’ Really! Now that’s something I can’t imagine finding in the Italian charts!

What are your thoughts on these results dear readers? Please let us know with a comment.

The New Born Baby

Posted on 15. Dec, 2014 by in Italian Language, Traditions, Vocabulary

L’arrivo di un bebè è sempre una gioia, sia per i neo-genitori che per parenti e amici (the arrival of a baby is always a moment of joy, both for the new parents and for friends and relatives).
In Italy it’s a common practice to announce the birth of a baby by hanging a big ribbon on your door with the name of the baby embroidered on it: un fiocco rosa per annunciare la nascita di una bambina, e un fiocco azzurro per quella di un bambino (a pink ribbon to announce the birth of a baby girl, and a blue ribbon for a baby boy).

un fiocco rosa per annunciare la nascita di una bambina, e un fiocco azzurro per quella di un bambino (image CC)

Today we are going to look at some of the vocabulary that we use for the arrival of a new born baby:

la gravidanza = the pregnancy

aspettare un bambino = to be pregnant/to be expecting a child (literally: to expect a child)

essere in dolce attesa = to be pregnant (literally: to be in sweet awaiting)

la futura mamma = the soon to be mother

il futuro papà = the soon to be father

il bebè = the baby. (we use this French word bebè when the baby’s gender isn’t known, e.g. before its birth)

il parto = the delivery, from the verb partorire = to give birth

la nascita = the birth, from the verb nascere = to be born

il lieto evento = the birth (literally: the joyful event)

dare alla luce = to give birth (literally: to give to the light)

è nato Bruno = Bruno has been/was born

è nata Laura = Laura has been/was born

è arrivata la cicogna = the stork has arrived (i.e. the baby has arrived)

Admit it, we’re lost! (image CC)

… and now for a few sentences that you can use to congratulate the new parents:

I più cari auguri a Bruno/Laura ed ai suoi splendidi genitori = best wishes to Bruno/Laura and to his/her wonderful parents

La nascita di Bruno/Laura ci riempie il cuore di gioia = the birth of Bruno/Laura fills our heart with joy

Benvenuto/a tra noi! Che la vita ti sorrida sempre = Welcome amongst us! May life always smile upon you

Mille felicitazioni e tanti auguri di serenità e bene per il piccolo Bruno/ la piccola Laura = Many congratulations and wishes of peace and wellbeing for little Bruno/Laura

Il Signore benedica il frutto del vostro amore = God bless the fruit of your love

La felicità radiosa di questo giorno e la sua luce accompagnino vostro figlio per tutta la vita = That the shining happiness of this day and its light may accompany your child for the rest of his/her life

Auguri a mamma e papà e benvenuti nel club degli insonni! Vi siamo vicini! Con affetto e simpatia = Best wishes to mum and dad and welcome to the sleepless club! We feel for you! With love and sympathy