Pasta and Politics


Virg, Gianna & Tamara


I have spent the past almost four weeks not thinking about the news back home and, particularly, about election news.  My brief respite from such things came to a screeching stop on Thursday morning when all four of us headed up to Pasta Fresca Valeria to purchase ravioli for our evening’s dinner.

When we walked into the compact area in front of the counter, we could tell we were in the presence of a local character.  A rather large lady was in the process of making a purchase and she was talking a mile a minute with the lovely lady behind the counter. We, of course, said “buon giorno” as we entered at which point her attention turned to us . . . and, particularly, me.

Understand that all that follows in the way of conversation was conducted in Italian (of one sort or another), facial expressions, hand and arm gestures, and massive amounts of good will and humor.

Gianna (because that’s who the chubby lady is) turned to me and asked if we were English.  I said, no, that we were American.  Gianna then exclaimed, “Porca miseria!” And added a bunch more stuff that I couldn’t keep up with but I thought was not good.  I thought not good because “porca miseria,” (literally, miserable pig) is an expression of some degree of disgust.  A kind of mild curse.

But, no, it turned out that Gianna prefers Americans to English.  The “porca miseria” was directed at the current political situation in the U.S.  A long slew of Italian flowed out of Gianna’s rapidly moving mouth and the only word I understood was “Novembre” but I still couldn’t get my head around what she was saying.  You see, my Italian just isn’t that good and if I don’t have some context into which I can put conversations, my ability to understand what is being said is greatly compromised.

When I said I didn’t understand, Tamara (because that’s who the lovely lady behind the counter is) slowly repeated the essentials to me. Then I understood that Gianna was asking about the elections in November.  But Gianna was off again and, now, I clearly understood “Clinton” and “Trump” and other bits and pieces.  I told Gianna that I was a Clinton supporter and that I thought Trump was crazy.  She was delighted at my good sense.  She told me that America is such a great country and so important in the world that it needs a good president and definitely not someone like Trump.

Dave wanted me to tell Gianna that he thinks Clinton should be in jail and Trump should be in an asylum but, before I could even begin to compose such a sentence, Gianna was off to the races again with some long exclamation.

By this time the entire staff of the pasta shop was involved in our exchange with much laughing and shaking of heads.  Gianna was going at full throttle.  I was saying “I don’t understand anything.”  The staff was saying, “It’s better that way.”

Before the party broke up, we had many photo opportunities to memorialize this wonderful interaction, which is the sort of thing that makes me want to come back to Italy time and again.  And, Tamara, even asked me to come behind the counter to run some pasta through the cutting machine to make a dab of the local, long pasta, manfricoli.

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