Food, talk, & Italians
By Laura Lagano
I’m so excited. I found the book Why Italians Love to Talk about Food while I was in Philadelphia. The book has two forwards along with the standard preface by the author. It makes the case that talking about food is the great equalizer among Italians. (I suspect that there are two others that are known world-wide — money and sex, but food, well that’s purely Italian.) I knew that Italians loved to talk about food having grown up with my Nonna who devoted her life to two things — cooking and her grandchildren. Nothing made her happier than combining her two loves. She would make anything that we asked or go out to purchase anything we asked. We wanted things like ice cream cake, Cap n Crunch (my sister), Spaghetti-Os (my brother). I think I was too old for these uber American convenience foods.
Food was used in our Brooklyn household to convey love and disappointment. When my mother was angry with my father she withheld food. Those rare times, we’d spot him eating at the local diner. Though I don’t remember, I suspect she cooked for us kids and our father knew that he was not welcome.
Food withholding does not occur in our household. As the only cook in our home, I typically provide the food. Though, I am sorry to say that I do not cook on a regular basis. My cooking is based on the food in the house, my whims, and my hunger (now that my kids are teenagers). But food is definitely love here, too. I have made a gluten-free chocolate banana bread three time in three weeks. My daughter (who does not eat this) wonders why I have the sudden interest in baking. Well, my son asked me.