I have to make a disclaimer before publishing…I am not making light of this horrible outbreak. Although my thoughts are similar to most, that it will pass, there’s really more to it, and less to it than we know, etc …
However, as much as I love my Italian peeps, my heritage, my ancestry and my own immigrant family as well as the zillion trips to the motherland I can never forget, it only punctuates why Italy is the perfect partner for Corona hysteria.
Italians freak over many things. Germs and illness are one of them.
Let me explain:
1. You will not drink anything with ice…ever in your life. Why? There is no real medical reason except anything cold will kill you…possibly within minutes. If you ask a waiter for ice, immediately they converse with the other waiters in a secret enclave and decide if this is a good move or not. Most times you are quickly labeled a cretino, and basically…buona fortuna.
2.Air conditioning is your neck’s worst enemy. Italians do not believe in air conditioning…ever. Visit Rome in August, and you will know I’m not lying. Air blowing on any part of your body is dangerous, but if you allow it on your neck, this might result in un “Colpo d’aria” which is literally a blow to the neck, (from the air). and you could be paralyzed from the neck down. That is probably a lie, too. I’m just guessing. Cold air from an artificial man-made device might put you in traction, and not allowed. My mother told me the story of her visit to Zia Maria in Genoa in the heat of the Italian summer. Her bedroom was a stifling hot box and she and my Aunt Lena opened the window at night but forgot to close it. Big mistake. Zia Maria found the open window and started screaming. “Chi aperto la finestra?!!!” To the dungeon with you…if you survive the blow to your neck.
3. Italians have an obsessive love affair with “I reni” or, the kidneys. These blood filtering organs are of the utmost importance to every Italian activity. Everything you do that’s bad will cause you to become labile with a kidney disorder…especially a wet bathing suit. I remember as a little girl, swimming at the beach in Riccione, my mother’s friend, Silvana, would count the amount of times I went in the ocean to remind my mother to change my bathing, suit. Every dip in the Adriatic warranted a change. They would count :”Ha fatto un bagno…due bagni.” Literal translation: One bath, two baths. Not changing of suits could result in dampness which would penetrate to the kidneys and have you on dialysis within hours. Not really true. I think the beach merchants just wanted you to keep buying bathing suits.
4. Cover your head at any temperature below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat escapes from your head at all times, and even a slight night breeze could send you to the hospital with pneumonia. And, never, ever, ever go out with wet hair. This is the kiss of death. My mother’s uncle, Zia Nicola, married to draft dodger, Zia Maria ,used to wear a ski cap to open the refrigerator. He died from a cold. In addition to head gear, one must always wear socks to bed, really for the same reason. If you go to bed every night dressed like La Befana, you will fight off many germs which might come to kill you in the wee hours.
5.Never go back to a store and purchase the same thing twice…in the same day. You might be talked about. My Aunt Lucy wanted to purchase more focaccia for a train ride, and Zia Maria would not let her go back to the same bakery for fear they might wonder why she came back in the same day for more bread. Is someone sick? Do you have a focaccia psychosis? Are you giving it away? Why would you need more? The nun who purchased more focaccia might be an imposter. Of who? Not really sure.
6. Too many grapes will give you diabetes…but wine is ok. Diabetes doesn’t find you if you eat too many grapes. Nobody can really control whether or not they are prey to diabetes. The Italians say sugar begets sugar, unless of course it’s red wine, which if it’s homemade wine from Zio Pietro’s itty-bitty grapevine which contains alcohol, which naturally cleans out the body’s systems. It’s because of Zio’s grapes you are healthy and viable. Grappa as well, especially when taken in the morning with breakfast is the Venitians’ homeopathic version of “Raid.” Kills anything on contact.
7. My good friend, Nick, whose household is just a Barese territory tells me he still cannot shower after dinner. Why? Digestion. Right. Digestion. Any movement after dinner can cause unresolvable dysentery, cardiothoracic emergencies, angina or “appendicicte” (appendicitis). He also has fear of going into any body of water, even if he remains motionless for at least two hours after a meal. You could drown if your saltines were not digested properly. Nick is 42 years old.
8. Pastina in brodo. Always the answer. Corona: pastina in brodo. Cancer: Pastina in brodo. Pneumonia: pastina in brodo. Pastina in brodo was the answer to any ailment. My nonna taught my mother, and I, too, have swallowed the Kool-Aid…I mean brodo. Whoever is sick in my house not only gets pastina, but now they are so conditioned to ask for it first. “Mom, I hurt my ankle at basketball. I need some pastina.” “Mom, I failed my Algebra final. I need pastina.” The Italians might actually be working on a pastina vaccine with ubiquitous cure-all antibodies. Don’t laugh. It might work.
There you have it. This is exactly why Italy was the WORST country to get a Corona outbreak amidst all the hype. My nonna would have been there with corn starch. She found that a topical analgesic for just about anything. One day I’ll tell you the story about when I was seven and had a UTI…
Go throw on some socks, a hat, eat some pastina and maybe, just maybe you might be the answer. But, remember to thank the Italians. As my mother used to say to the other cultures “we were using forks while you were still swinging from the trees.” Never doubt an Italian.