My nephew from Italy has arrived in my house in California, he will be vacationing for two months. I had longed his visit since he was a boy, now he is 16 and finally made it across the Ocean to visit me.
I had always known my sister raised her three kids in the proper way, they are well-mannered and with good morals. I have seen them in Italy in their home’s environment sitting at the table with a beautiful posture, using silverware in the right way, but I paid no close attention, as it is very normal in Italy to see kids and adults sitting together at the same table, in a good behavior, eating the same food and interacting in the conversation.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Now he is in front of me, I notice his gestures and his comportment I had not noticed through the years when I am in his home. Driving back from the airport to my home, I offered him a bottle of water, but I didn’t bring any glass along, who knew he does not drink water out of the bottle. He said thanks and left the water. I said to myself “this is promising!”. We have gotten used to see even women drinking out of the bottle that we don’t think anything is out-of-place.
The next day, he requested a typical American breakfast, eggs, bacon and hash brown, which he approached it with fork and knife. So far, I have never seen an American boy doing that and I said it again “this is promising!”.
Two days later, I made pizza in my brick oven in the garden and he ate it with fork and knife again. On an another day, I made roasted chicken and french fries, but he touched nothing with his hands. As the days go by and we eat in or out at restaurants, the scene is still the same, my nephew doesn’t touch food with hands, period, even the kind food that is OK to eat with hands. After the meal is over, he washes hands and teeth, action which completes the eating experience, even if we are out and about.
He has a refined palate, despises overly spiced food, badly cooked food and food he cannot understand. In my family good food has been a way of life and even kids know how food is supposed to taste.
This is heaven, I thought and it would have been pretty good if food were all that mattered. Then the hidden bad habits started to come out. Like all the Italian men, they are taught at a young age to be served like princes, house chores are for women. Italian men know how to get dressed right and properly for each occasion and know how to put colors together without looking like a commercial billboard. My nephew at 16 years of age is no different. Did I mention that he expects his jeans and T-shits to be ironed with a perfect crease? Oh, yes!
Italian men get all made up and perfumed, then go out looking handsome leaving the rest to the women, cooking, cleaning and going to the market for food. Upon their return home, they expect everything to be in place and food on the table.
Like all the Italian men, my nephew also doesn’t do anything and I mean anything around the house, not even pick up his shoes and dirty clothes left everywhere. The simpler chore of watering the plants in the garden seems as an offense to his manhood. I asked him to help me with some small chores, he said “OK later” to keep me quiet and didn’t follow through. I asked him again and he gave me long faces for two days.
Italian mothers are good mothers to teach manners. However, their male kids are the future princes and kings of the family, therefore they must learn that role since a very young age so the mishap can continue with the women they marry.
And miserable women they will be!!!
Not only Italian men will refuse to help a woman around the house, but they will find a lover the moment they are saying “YES” at the altar.
I foresee two long months for me with my nephew no matter how much I love him and a great weariness on his part if I attempt to teach him to be different.
If anyone has a suggestion for me, please come forward, love to hear it. I have no kids of my own, I am totally unprepared to deal with this problem. Ciao,
Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Valentina Cirasola has been in business as an interior designer since 1990 improving people’s life by changing their spaces. Often people describe her as “the colorist” for a reason. She lives in a colorful world, wrote a book on colors RED-A Voyage Into Colors and loves to color her clients’ environments by creating the unusual. Her deep interest in food led her as an autodidact in the studies of food in history, natural remedies, nutrition and well-being, then finally she wrote two books on Italian regional cuisine. Find Valentina’s three books on