What is a ‘Cuzzupe’ and Other Easter Treats?

By Alberto Amore

Christmas and thanksgiving are known for their big family feasts with both Christian and non religious families gathering together to dine with turkeys, potatoes and salads, but these gatherings pale in comparison to an Italian Easter.

While Anglo-Saxon parents carefully place small, store bought easter eggs around the backyard and exchange a branded grocery store egg with each member of the family, Italian families have had their heads buried in ovens for days on end producing a very purposeful and regimented period of family famine followed by indulgent, all consuming all encompassing feasting. Chocolate is on the margins where whole foods, natural ingredients and recipes lasting generations sometimes to the Romans are shared and enjoyed by families connected by blood but fused by food.

The patterns are similar, there is fasting, usually for the forty days of lent, certain foods and certain treats are consumed on certain days of the Holy weeks. Baccala, an air dried fish, usually cod, in Napoli is a salt cured fish in Calabria. It has a shelf life of several years and is consumed on ‘Venerdi Sante’ or ‘Holy Friday’ or ‘Good Friday’ as an act of sacrifice for crucified God.

All throughout Italy there are countless rituals, processions, traditions, people marching with torches and bare-feet along kilometres of stone streets. In my home village, dozens of people line the streets and play a parochial wooden percussion instrument in a thunderous demonstration support for the passing parade. The instruments, like the parade only arise once a year. [Read more…]

Wherefore Art Thou Romeo?

By Alberto Amore

Romeo and Juliet is a ripoff. There, I said it.

Bill Shakespeare ripped it off just like he ripped off pretty much everything he did. He was a rapper of yesteryear, sampling, reshaping and reselling old songs that had been sung time and time again, but to a new audience, a British audience. It is a practice that has always been in play and copyright lawyers rub their collective hands together with the knowledge that it always will. But let’s be honest.

Do we want to hear the world’s greatest love story from the point of view of an Englishman? If you want your romance to be microwave spag bol, by all means, help yourself. However, if you want passion on a plate, if you want to be serenaded and romanced with the finest wines and the embrace of sun-kissed Mediterranean ingredients, then you need authentic Italian food. And as for romance, you may side with the land of Monty Python and Mr. Bean or you may look to the land of Casanova, Rudolph Valentino and Romeo and Giulietta.

In the Shakespearean version, when Juliet leans over the Balcony (as it is often portrayed) and calls out

“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”

She is not asking where Romeo is, contrary to the direction of English teachers and Directors the world over. ‘Wherefore’ does not mean ‘Where’ nor did it in Shakespearean England. Wherefore would be understood as closer to why,  changing the lazy interpretation of ‘Where is Romeo?’ to ‘Why’ does this object of my love and adoration have to be he, a Montague, a member of a rival family.  [Read more…]

Positive Italian Habits Everyone Should Inherit

You can develop an optimistic outlook as easy as a habit of doing cardio every morning. Of course, willing to live and enjoy life is not a myth! Many people say that Italy is a country of optimistic people – and yes, if you compare Italy to other European or Northern countries, psychologists agree – this nation lives happier indeed. And none of the factors depend on the economics (which is not in the best state throughout the last decade). But people in Italy never cry over life and perceive things as they are. Maybe, there is something to learn for every other country?

NEW DAY, NEW LIFE

There is no reason to panic and forecast the end of the world. Whichever news the press will announce today, you don’t need to make an elephant out of a fly. This life principle is typical for the majority of Italians, which is not surprising, because the country has lived with Berlusconi for so many years, and the eternal crisis of the Italian economy is already almost a part of the local color. People here live and expect better things to come.

FACEBOOK IS A SOCIAL MEDIA MEANT FOR FRIENDSHIP, NOT FOR POLITICAL DEBATES

Italian profiles are always the best to look at on the social media – they all are sweet and positive. The majority of people post photos of their wives, children, memories from recent holidays and weekends. The links to the political articles are relatively rare and difficult to find. And quarrels between dissenters in the commentaries are not a normal phenomenon. For example, there are numerous cases where two Italians are both politicians, who represent competing parties, but they live perfectly together. [Read more…]

The Gift of an Italian Christmas

By Al Mach

Much is said about the commercialization of Christmas and the loss of the Christmas spirit. So what is Christmas and what is behind the Italian tradition that has been exported to the world over?

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is a Roman Catholic tradition which is emulated by many other cultures throughout the world. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was a coming together of the Holy Madonna, Saint Joseph, Baby Jesus and the three wise men who received an invite by The Star of Bethlehem or Christmas Star as it now often now known.

It may have also included the Innkeeper who received the travelers in a barn or cave, as his inn was full. The stories (as there many) and the scene is often supported by animal friends such as a Donkey, an Ox and the Camels of the Magi and may extend to others. The birth of Jesus, the first Christmas is recognized in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew in the New Testament of the Christian Bibles. [Read more…]

Rugby League World Cup, the Red, White and Azzurri!

By Al Mach

No helmets, no pads, no blockers, no first downs, no kneels and no time outs. Two teams of agile, fast and powerful football players have to be able to play every position on the field, be it offensive, defensive and special teams and regularly change from one position to the other during the full speed run of play in the time it takes for an NFL quarterback’s heart to skip a beat. This is the world of Rugby League Football.

2017 marks the 15th iteration of the World Cup of Rugby League, a game that started in the North of England in 1895. It differs from its sister sport Rugby Union which it is often mistaken for, in that the more modern and more free flowing game of Rugby League has smaller (Rugby has 15 players on the field while Rugby League has 13) and more versatile teams competing with ‘plays of the ball’ as opposed to constant scrimmaging in order to speed the game up and provide enthralled audiences with constant visibility of the football which often gets lost under the rucks and mauls (Rugby Scrimmages) of its predecessor, Rugby.

First held in 1954, the 2017 Rugby League World Cup will showcase 14 men’s and 6 women’s teams from around the globe in Pacific Island host nations Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea where the game has flourished. In Australia, Rugby League is the local form of Football. It is known as a working man’s sport and is often referred to as ‘the greatest game of all’ on the East coast of Australia where it has been a very popular and highly professional sport for over a century. In the US, the word ‘Football’ conjures up the very different images of Steely McBeam, Ben Roethlisberger in a shiny logo’d helmet behind a highly posed offensive line on perfectly manicured astro turf (Rugby League is played exclusively outdoors on grass). The two games have evolved from Ruby but taken very different paths. The games communities are even more diverse. The NFL generated more than $13 Billion in the 2016 season while in the USA has been floundering to try to get off the ground since before World War II. [Read more…]