As you’ve read in My Italian In-Laws: Two Weeks In Cassino: Part 1, I’m staying with my in-laws for two weeks because I was obviously a politician in my past life and I’m being punished by God. In the last post my in-laws were pissed that I suck at domestic slavery, otherwise known as cooking, and they were preparing for a big lunch the following day. My friends, the lunch happened FOR SIX FUCKING HOURS. Now, I’m pretty sure the novelty of a six hour “real Italian lunch” is cool to outsiders. You’re thinking, “it’s so rustic!” or “you’re experiencing such a lovely and merry culture!” But let me go ahead and say no. Stuffing food into your body like cased sausage is not awesome and I’m pretty sure that my internal organs are going to be mad at me for weeks. My liver is probably damaged from the food (not from the bottle of wine I drink everyday) and I will surely never fit into my skinny jeans again.
It was lovely when we first arrived and everyone was kissing and hugging and the food was all cute on the table in the garage in the family summer house in Cellole. I love the idea of the in-laws cooking for my husband’s friends. They do it twice per year, once for all of their friends and once for my husband’s friends. It’s a very generous and sweet gesture that I think we should do more often in the US. It’s also an excellent way to get to know all of your children’s friends and to get them drunk and see which ones act out after 3,000 bottles of wine. I’m totally doing this starting in Kindergarten so I can weed out the bad friends. Mom of the year guys! Can’t wait!
Everyone arrived around 2 p.m. and my father-in-law began shoving plastic cups filled with homemade wine into everyone’s hands. My mother-in-law and one of her friend’s were hard at work in the kitchen preparing food for twenty people. We chatted and laughed and I followed Oliver around screaming, “STOP HUMPING PEOPLE!” as I usually do.
When twenty or so guests arrived we took our seats at a table filled with Antipasti (appetizers) of salami, cheese, bread, pickled vegetables and more wine. We started snacking. I started drinking heavily. My father-in-law brought in cow balls and I was all, “No fucking way you freak. Have you SEEN balls when they’re attached!? They look like chewed up gum!” But everyone else was all, “Mmmm!” granted they didn’t know what they were eating until after they swallowed and my FIL announced, “YOU ATE BALLS!” Because he likes to keep it classy.
After antipasti my MIL brought out pasta al pomodoro (pasta with tomatoes) and lasagna. One portion of each. Then grilled vegetables were added to the table. Diced potatoes. Olives. More cheese. I was already full so I pretended to eat but mostly just drank wine (unless my MIL was nearby, then I pretended to take a bite). I’m not one for over-eating because I hate that gross feeling of being too full. I’m more of a drinker and a stalker. I love being surrounded by good people and watching them interact. I’m lucky in the sense that my husband has some amazing friends who tolerate my shitty sense of humor and the fact that I say “vagina” more than the average person should. Some of them still think I’m a freak but those ones should drink more. And stop being so judgy.
Six types of grilled meat from pork chops to lamb were slammed down on the table next. The guys ate themselves half way to a heart attack and I kept thinking, “Seriously. There are starving people in the world. WE ARE SO SPOILED.” And I drank more because I felt guilty. Food in the south of Italy is kind of like money. In the south being hefty was a sign of wealth at one time and they still use food to show that they’re doing well. So we were basically showing off that we were not starving AND we could feed our friends too. I suggested that next time we show off we do it with designer gowns. Everyone rolled their eyes when I suggested it because obviously it’s way cooler to show off with cow balls. It was around this time that my MIL who was seated at the opposite end of our table screamed, “HEY! YOUR FRIEND HERE, THIS AUSTRALIAN GIRL, SHE SPEAKS ITALIAN WAY BETTER THAN YOU!” And everyone at the table fell silent and turned to me. My Italian really does suck but still, way to be a dick, lady. Unable to implode I did the next best thing and screamed “And? What do you want from me?” in dialect. I have no idea why but when a foreign person speaks dialect everyone here gets SUPER EXCITED about it. When my husband uses American slang I get weirded out. Screaming, “Dats right shorty!” just sounds weird with an Italian accent. Anyways, my use of their village tongue erased the fact that I was being rude to my MIL and my FIL burst out laughing and screamed, “This one is from Naples!” And a few friends high-fived me. I was not raised to be a dick to elders but sometimes I feel like it’s the only way to handle things here. That or cry. Nobody high-fives me for crying. Then the old men started eating lamb brains served in the lamb skull and I went outside to avoid vomiting up all my wine.
After brains came the dessert, Grappa, Limoncello, and coffee. Drunk as shit my FIL who sat in a large garden chair, flanked by all of the other men, felt inspired to start screaming weird sexist stuff like, “Get your asses up women and do stuff for the men! You’re meant to be our slaves!” And the women were pissed and stopped cleaning up. The women would have probably been less pissed if the weren’t currently fighting for gender equality and if there wasn’t a very real social pressure in Italy for women to do everything. They gathered by the space heater to mumble under their breathe that the men could go fuck themselves. My sister-in-law decided that my husband was also going to suffer for their father’s idiotic comments so when he asked her to “bring a coffee” she screamed “Do if your fucking self! You have legs!” She turned to me, “Don’t give it to him,” and I was all, “Lady, I never planned on it.” I should add that he was sitting on his friend’s (a dude) lap chatting five feet from the coffee. He asked every girl nearby to hand it to him but they all said “no” and took turns smelling and slurping their coffee in front of him and moaning, “Mmm, Italian coffee is so good.” This worked for about fifteen minutes. Then his mom came and gave him coffee. Union-buster.
Francesco, myself and a few of our friends left shortly after and headed to my in-laws for a mini-party and some card games. Stay tuned for: Italian women complain about Mammoni and I learn to play “Merde” while drunk on rum.
- ‘Italian life prioritizes quality over quantity’ (thelocal.it)
- Italy’s Greatest Gastronomic Treasure, Emilia-Romagna: The Secrets Behind the Secret! (forbes.com)
- Cassino War Cemetery (bitsnbooks.wordpress.com)