Tuesday, March 11, 2008

He's a piece of bread


Lui è un pezzo di pane. This is a great compliment here in Naples, maybe all over Italy, but I wouldn't know anything about the rest of this lovely wacky country. If someone calls you a piece of bread it means you're simple, and being simple is also a compliment. It doesn't mean you're a little slow. Simple like unpretentious. Wholesome like a piece of bread. Given the very large number of bread types in Naples -- palatone, cafone, mezzaluna, sfilatina -- I wonder if each person who is like a piece of bread is like a very specific piece of bread. Like maybe I am hard on the outside and squishy on the inside. Or maybe you are a little sour and flecked with sunflower seeds. Perhaps you are simply round or semi-circular.


I have been having lengthy conversations about Neapolitan gesture these days, and also about Italian grammar, now that our departure date is visibly on the horizon. I see it! Right over there next to that catamaran! The Husband was trying to explain when he chooses to just use words, to use words and gesture, or just use gesture to make a point. He was trying really hard and failing because the decisions are automatic and unconscious. I gleaned from his various chin thrusts, shoulder shrugs, finger pointing, and tongue clucking that sometimes it's about emphasis, sometimes it's about directing a remark to the person looking at you (thus away from those not looking at you), other times it's about being scary, occasionally it's to show great chumminess. I still have so much to learn.


You should hear me throw the subjunctive around these days. I am like an Italian grammar rock star, the Italian grammar lady pope. Penso che sia troppo forte con l'uso del congiuntivo, devo dire la verità.


Comunque, comunque. I am happy to report that the Bay Area offers more than one Italian language play group! I am thrilled that La Bimba will have little compatriots to speak in code with. She has started translating like a fiend -- palla/ball! tree/albero! kiss/NOOOOO! She is going to love all the Berkeley foliage, but she is going to be quite disappointed when she realizes that not every American who passes her on the street is going to stop and marvel. For her, everyone in Naples is some kind of relative. Here she is with her bilingual buddy Tilda.

Don't worry, Bimba! We will find plenty of folks to coo over you. Non ti preoccupare!

13 comments:

madgic said...

sounds like the title of a dance! A dance with many gestures, small and big, then you could move on to steps....big steps....medium steps.....small

mental mosaic said...

I hadn't heard that bread saying here in Naples, yet. Maybe I'll use it tonight at dinner and see how folks react!

I agree on the hand gestures; it's complex. Our resident 2-year-old is already making a lot of Neapolitan gestures.

Glad your little one will be able to have some Italian-speaking play dates in the states.

Delina said...

You have to agree that Neapolitan bread is FAB.

Gil said...

I don't know what I love the most about Naples the bread or the seafood! It is almost impossible to find decent Italian bread in the part of Connecticut where I live. You have a beautiful daughter. You posts make me remember when my daughter was that young.

Anonymous said...

Are you moving back to USA? or just a visit?

rompipalle said...

Who wants to know? (I said that in my head with a very thick Brooklyn accent).

Doug said...

gil, you have to come to Rhode Island (Cranston, especially) to get the good bread! We have a bakery right by our house open 24 hours a day...mmmmm...not quite Neapolitan, but damn good!

Doug said...

Rompi: anon is from the Department of Homeland Security, I think.

Gil said...

Doug,

What is the name of the bakery? Thanks,
Gil

Tracie B. said...

e se lo dicessi, saresti arrogante?

of course not! wield those subjunctives like a pro, baby. you're probably the only one in naples doin' it. i love them too...looks like i've found a kindrid grammar dork :)

Doug said...

Hey, gil:

Well, we just moved, so I don't know, but let me run out and see....

[Later:] Superior Bakery, and they most certainly are.

Gil said...

Thanks Doug! It looks good.

Y B Normal? said...

Buon Ritorno!

I looked it up, the closest Dante Alighieri Society to SF is in Santa Cruz. Mapquest says it's 73 miles or 1 hr 18 mins away (if you can trust it). That is a great organization to belong to if you want to keep up on 'things Italian'.

http://www.folkplanet.com/dante/