Archive | November 2010

Christmas idea for him: look in the kids section

Ok people, here we are! Black Friday is here and Christmas shopping can start!

I don’t know about you, but I often have hard time to figure out what to buy in order to fill my Christmas list! However, I love to get present, and every year I remind myself that Christmas is supposed to be fun, and not stressful.

I have also noticed that the closer a person is to me, the harder it is to find a present.
Does it happen to you as well?
Maybe it’s just because I’m obsessed with finding the PERFECT present, that it doesn’t only makes the person happy, but it’s useful and makes it clear that I am the best! – Oops, that doesn’t sound good at all!

This is why my number one present, right now, has to be the one for my husband. I figured in few years of marriage it could change, but for now I do want to be his number one present as well- still doesn’t sound good!
The result to all this it’s me trying to capture everything is in his mind every time he watches something in some store, or when he comments some TV commercial – full time job from August to December!

But the other day I was hit by a brainwave: do you need the perfect present for him? Look in the kids section!
I was surfing the Internet, and I found the 20 Hot Toys for Christmas 2010. I do not have any kids, but I found few things that I could really consider to buy for my husband!

I know he would enjoy the first present on the list: the XBox Kinect. I guess it’s the new one, with no controllers. He says “Cool” every time we pass by to the store, and he seems to forget we have Nintendo Wii at home that we never use!

I know he would also have fun with the NERF N-Strike Stampede ECS Blaster “serious power is what most kids have been searching for” even if in the picture the guy that is using it is probably 17 – at least!

I skip quickly memory games, because I know they could give me hope and then break my heart. Memory is not a man skill!

However in the teen section I found lots of interesting. In his defence – and all men’s defence – I have to say that in this list there are items that can be good for adults as well.
Since he doesn’t have the possibility to buy a real one,  I know he would enjoy to play around with a Razor Pocket Rocket Miniature Electric Bike, or even worst with the Flybar or FlyJumpers. Good thing we don’t have a back yard.

I refuse to talk about video games. The reason is simple: the list would be too long, and  when he’s going to read my post, he will look at me upset and tell me: “You forgot Dragon Age” instead of “I am not a kid”!
That will make me smile knowing I got the PERFECT present for him!

P.S. To my husband: this is only a post! It will not be any video game for you under the Christmas tree!
If you don’t know what to get me, click here!

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Things you probably don’t know about Italy – Not the usual list

Hi everybody! This is the second part of my The world through Italian eyes project.

WARNING – A small but still remarkable percentage of readers found my previous post 10 things I don’t understand about Canada (and Usa???) offensive, and commented “You’ve been very insulting to a country that has welcomed you with open arms”. Replying that I have been talking about cinnamon and air-conditioned, and of course my post was ironic – like thousands for readers understood and wrote me about – I have to warn you. This post may contain humor that may not be suitable for an audience with unexpressed anger, lack of a sense of humor, lack of self-criticism, and serious disposition for conspiracy.

This list has been made with the only intention to let you know unusual aspects of Italian culture that you may not know. It would be too easy for me to fill the blank with beautiful things about Italy and Italian people.

Instead, things you probably don’ know about Italy.

- We don’t have cranberry in Italy, so don’t ask me for the translation.

- Salad is a side dish and not a starter.

- In high school you have only one class – your class – with about 20 people who share with you the same room 5 hours per day. The teachers come into the room for the different subjects.

- If you find toilet paper in public restrooms, consider yourself very lucky. In fact Italian women always keep a small tissue pack in their purses for this reason.

- Italy has two big islands – Sardinia and Sicily – much bigger than Capri and Ischia!

- Lunch is a meal. It’s not a sandwich or a salad to go, it’s a meal. That’s why we need to go home for lunch and close all stores and offices between 12:30pm and 3 or 4pm. Do you want to shop at lunch time? Too bad!

- Every day about 3,000 Euro are thrown into the Fontana di Trevi in Rome and collected at night to be given to a charitable organization.

- Italy is one of the most crowded nations in Europe, that’s why we have to talk loud.

- Family is very important, and if we decide to kill ourselves, usually we kill our family first.

- America is for us U.S.

- If you decide for some unknown reason to drive in Italy, be aware that motorcycles, scooters, and bicycles share the road with cars. Be ready to see them  zipping by on your left and right on a one-lane road. Be also ready to hit the throttle as soon as the light turns green: if you don’t, somebody could come to knock to your window with a rod that is usually in a car for all eventualities. No right turn on red! Also, if you see somebody moving his hands towards talking to you, DO NOT STOP your vehicle: that is not Italian gesture, it’s Italian threat! Good luck with the road signs!

- Almost four-fifths of Italy is either mountainous or hilly, perfect for scooters!

- A scooter can sometimes be good for 2 or 3 people + kids.

- Pedestrians risk their life every day! They are actually a species threatened with extinction since everybody with a driver’s license owns a car. Too bad for you if you don’t have one, nobody is going to let you cross the street, no matter if it’s raining, if the light is green, or if you are old and with a walking stick.

- Italians suffer more earthquakes than any other Europeans and no other country in Europe has as many volcanoes as Italy.

- From early age, you have to wear designer clothes to be socially accepted, which makes the whole society pretty superficial and judgemental.

- We could rip you off at any time if we really want to… and usually we do. That’s a….. skill (?)

- Bread it’s good for you, and when I say bread I mean white bread. We buy it every day, and while in North America mothers say “Finish your vegetables” in Italy mothers say “Finish your bread”. The average Italian consumes half a pound of bread a day.

- Italy is history, art and traditions, but our own Minster forgot that saying art does not feed you. Somebody answer saying art makes you grow!

Soccer it’s a very big deal: if you wear your soccer t-shirt in the wrong city you are clearly asking to get beat up. Do not go to the stadium with kids. Do not  – EVER – say that a team is going to win or score before the end of the match: that’s considered bad luck, and people will really believe it’s your fault no matter what happens. Italians are all soccer coaches: they know better than everybody else who should play for their team.

- We do not go to church every week (or every month, only for weddings) and if we have a cross on our neck it’s probably just a fashion statement. Soccer it’s our religion, and sex is our salvation.

- Women watching is a national sport, the most important after soccer, and before eating. They look at you in a persistent way no matter what, and who is with you.

- If you go out for dinner, enjoy the food. Keep in mind that tipping is not required. In fact, tipping people you personally know it could be considered offensive: the attitude toward tipping is that you can’t buy a person off. Taking home the leftovers is not an option, and leaving food on the plate is frowned upon, so MANGIA!. Portions are pretty large, but people still manage to stay fairly skinny.

- People are warm and welcoming. No matter how fat you are, they will always refill your plate saying you need to eat more, and refill your glass saying it’s good for you. Again, MANGIA!

- There are things you are expected to be able to do by your 10th birthday: swimming, riding a bike, drinking grappa and play soccer (if you are a boy) or know your dream is to marry a soccer player and dance naked on TV (if you are a girl).

- If you are ready to dance naked you will get on TV in no time. We do not care about information. We cannot talk about politics, it’s just not nice to criticize somebody else’s womens….I mean work! It’s not nice! So if you watch TV you will see naked women and sexy commercials. Not that violent garbage you bad guys have in North America!

Italy is just a lot of stuff. It’s true, I did leave my country, and from time to time it disappoints me from time to time, but It’s my country. It gave me the “Italian glasses” that raised me and made me become who I am.

Read my controversial post 10 things I don’t understand about Canada.

Don’t miss what I learned in Canada about Italian people (coming up on my blog).

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10 things I don’t understand about Canada (and Usa???)

Hello everybody, and welcome to the first part of my The world through Italian eyes project.

WARNING – A small but still remarkable percentage of readers found this post offensive, and somebody commented “You’ve been very insulting to a country that has welcomed you with open arms”. Replying that I have been talking about cinnamon and air-conditioned, and of course my post was ironic – like thousands for readers understood and wrote me about – I have to warn you. This post may contain humor that may not be suitable for an audience with unexpressed anger, lack of a sense of humor, lack of self-criticism, and serious disposition for conspiracy.

For all the people who missed my presentation (you can read here) everything came to my mind with the realization that every one of us wear a pair of glasses that filter the world around us. From here, with my “Italian glasses“, the top 10 things I do not understand about Canada.

First of all, I’d like to say that I’m talking about Canada because it’s been 5 years now that I have been living here. However, I won’t exclude that some of these things happen in the United States as well, which will make my post even more interesting!

Canada is a very great country, but there are things I really have a hard time to understand:

1. First of all, taxes. The reason is simple: if you have $5 in your wallet, and you want to buy something that costs $5, think twice. You can’t! In fact, due to Canadian taxes, the price of an item is NEVER what you read on the tag. This makes everything very….. frustrating!

2. Air conditioning. Ok, this is not only something that I don’t understand, but also a big issue. What is wrong with you people???  Why do I have to take with me a jacket in the summer  just to go to the grocery store? And keep a sweater at work because it’s so cold that I have goosebumps? This is much more than a fresh breeze in the hot muggy summer (which it’s not the reason why Canada is famous since probably there is a summer every 4 years) but we are talking about a strong polar storm that gets you as soon as the sliding doors open!!!! I don’t get it!

3. Last minute plans. “You know how Canadians are”! This is a typical sentence that comes up when we are talking about booking an appointment, meeting or even a dinner with friends with weeks in advance! “What about a brunch next mont?” Next month????? I suppose I will be still around, and I also suppose we will still be friends in a months time. However I have a hard time deciding what to have for dinner later, so I’m not really sure how we can do this. How about you call me whenever you are ready?!

4. Seal hunt. In Canada you can hunt pretty much everything. This is very disappointing. I have always considered this country one of the best in regards of green living. There are beautiful landscapes,  one-tenth of the world’s forests, and most of the people seem to care about the environment. They have wonderful people like David Suzuki who certainly said pretty important things about the country and the Planet. However sometimes I wonder if it’s all just in my head, if Canada is just as bad as any other country. For example, did you know that the federal government wants to put a price tag on polar bears???

5. Hockey vs. Soccer/football. I know you are already smiling, so let me get to the point: Canadians  don’t think soccer is a real sport! They make fun of soccer players because they fall down and complain like little girls while they play hockey and are tough! So tough that when they don’t play hockey they get busy pushing freaking teapots on ice with a big broom thinking that’s fun to play and to see.  They call it curling and play it on TV for hours! Well, let me tell you something: that is not a sport either, and for sure it’s not tough, it’s just insane!

6. Monarchy. Italy has really nothing to teach anybody about politics and democracy. In any case the presence of a monarchy in a country like Canada seems today something with not too much sense.

7. Everybody’s sorry. Coming from a country where it’s easier to get naked than to apologize about something, one of the first things you notice about Canadian people is that they say “I’m sorry” in any occasion, no matter what! Sometimes makes you think how kind these people are, other times….what are you guys so sorry about??!!

8. Cinnamon. This is another Canadian obsession: in cookies, soups, coffees, cakes, meat, pretty much everywhere! There is so much cinnamon in Canada that you can smell it when you walk on the street! I have never been a fan of this spice, but it never bother me at all because I have never lived completely surrounded by it!!!

9. Style. I’m sorry to say this, but Canadians have no sense of style! While it’s very nice to live in a country where nobody judges you for the way you dress – should I say “for your fashion crimes”??? – it can really be disturbing sometimes to watch! It really took me lots of work and energies, but it made me a better and more tolerant person. Still, not style! It really would take not much to understand that just because you have a designer bag it DOES NOT mean you have style!

10. Complains about weather. You have not excuses! I am Italian, born and grew up on an island where you can go to the beach pretty much 6 month per year. I have the right to complain about Canadian winter, and I don’t really do it. Why? Because it’s winter, and you are in Canada for God shake…. what do you aspect? Try not to wear t-shirt and flip-flop while it’s snowing, that could help you! Yes, I understand you are tough and you like hockey and not soccer…. So how come, after 6 month of winter (read snow, snow storm, -30ºC) if we pass +20ºC you tough guys melt like ice-cream on a bbq grill and lose your mind complaining about the heat??? Let me ask you: did you go to Florida in February only to make your co-workers upset and actually spent the whole week in your hotel room with AC watching curling on We-are-tough channel???

Ok, come on, where is your sense of humor???

Well, let me say that Canada it’s a great county, and that my “Italian glasses” don’t always make me see things in the right way. I’m learning. However, there are things I will never understand.

For all the people who now want a revenge, it’s coming! So don’t miss the things you need to know about Italy + the things I learned in Canada about Italian people (coming up on my blog).

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The world through Italian eyes

How leaving your country changes you but not your “glasses”

It has been almost 5 years now, 5 years that changed my life but more than anything else changed me.

Leaving your country it’s never easy (here why I left Italy) but now I know that traveling and finding out anything that is new it’s my way to experience life.

Living in a country on the other side of the world changes your prospective, life’s goals, and even the way you see your own country. I have always known that the place where you were born, your family and everything around you shapes you, but I realized pretty soon after moving to Canada, that I actually see the whole world through “Italian eyes”.

Everything is filtered from my past experiences, the way I grew up, and everything I thought it was normal – but it’s not.
I have so much to learn knowing that there is never only one truth, one point of view, one side of the story. However it’s not easy sometimes get rid of these “Italian glasses” because – for the good and the bad – they are part of who I am.

From here,  I’ve decided to write about:

- things I don’t understand about Canada
Things you probably don’t know about Italy – Not the usual listy
- things I learned in Canada about Italian people (coming up)

This will be pretty much a mirror of my daily life of Italian immigrant in the XXI century. I’m sure a lots of people wear these glasses, with different flags on it.
I hope you’ll enjoy and share your own experiences and point of view.

Stay connected!

The best potato recipe ever!

I’m glad to share with you today this family recipe that I hope you will love as much as I do!

This is everything you need:

- boiled potatoes
- mozzarella
- 2 eggs
- mortadella
- parmigiano cheese
- a little butter

Smash the potatoes and add eggs, butter, salt and a little milk.

In a baking pan put potatoes, mozzarella, mortadella and potatoes again.

Cover with grated parmigiano…

…and cook for an hour at 180C.

Cut into blocks and serve warm!
Enjoy! Buon Appetito!

For authentic Italian ingredients click here

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