Tuesday, October 8, 2013

An Italian Dinner

I am a bit of a linguaphile.  I love words- dying words, sophisticated words... reading books... and studying languages.
Do you ever get that burning desire to become fluent in about a dozen languages like, this summer?  That's sort of how I was, but I need to study other things, like biology, and music theory.  So I limited myself to just a handful: ASL, French, and Arabic.  And Italian.
Italian is probably the language I need the most, next to English.  English is a WEIRD language.  It steals from others, and makes up rules, but breaks them all the time!  Not to mention that the words are pronounced very oddly next to other languages.  I pity people trying to learn English.  

Italian is so beautiful!  I love the way the grammar fits together, and the way it feels in your mouth when you speak it.  Gnocci.  Svavilava.  Cucchiaio.
Also, I get a lot of exposure to it.  My dad is an opera singer, and most operas are in Italian.  PLUS the people he works with in the opera business are often Italian.  My family is talking about how we want to go to Italy next summer as well, and I definitely want to study it in college.  

I've been using the Rosetta Stone program, and it works SO well!  (No worries, I haven't been paid to advertise it.)
I've never used it with kids my age, though.  That is, until my friend Valentina came to New York.
The entire summer, I've been back and forth, emailing a homeschooled girl who lives in Monaco.  Valentina is so cool!  She's fluent in French, English, and Italian, she plays the piano, and is an avid dancer.  Now she's both in my playwriting class, and palmistry class.  

Her mom suggested having an Italian dinner one night with them and Neva (remember? from "the dance"?).  Neva studies even more languages than I do!  Right now, her forte is Hindi, but she is still going strong with Italian.
Valentina's mom, Jackie, only spoke to me in Italian, and whenever I slipped back into English, she responded with a mock-insulted, "Cosa?".  We were making food as well; Neva and Valentina hand-rolled pasta, while I chopped vegetables for a salad. (Which was SO delicious- it was half raw asparagus, half avocado, with olive oil and lemon juice, generously sprinkled with mint leaves and toasted sunflower seeds) The whole experience was SO educational; I forced myself to be better at Italian.  My brain hungrily absorbed new verbs and names of foods.  Some of the things we talked about was the history of the pasta name we ate (strozzapreti- literally priest strangler.  From what I could understand, it had to do with Mussolini.), what our brothers were doing, and Dan's face when he tasted kombucha.  

Then we watched Ballando con le Stelle, which is the Italian version of "Dancing with the Stars".  I've never seen the American version, but I really enjoyed watching it.  I picked up some new words, too, like piunti, "Salve!", and provotico.  We were rooting for two women; one had strange makeup and an exotic dress (her dance was very modern and unusual), and a rather graceful transvestite woman.  What I thought was strange was that when they read out the points, they did it in a VERY STEREOTYPICALLY american accent, so 27 points (ventisette piunti) sounded like "Ventysetay poonty!"
Then we had dinner!  Jackie very kindly took my vegan diet into consideration, and we feasted on salad, creamy risotto, and fresh (egg free!) pasta.  The food was all so delicious and fresh... and then we went back into the bedroom to watch the rest of Ballando con le Stelle.  We're not sure what happened next... and we're pretty sure it was the food or something... but we ended up with our arms around each other on the bed, giggling about blonde hair and how silly celebrities are.
We all agreed that we needed to do this again soon. 


  1. Thanks for this travelogue. I was able to enjoy it without having to choke down a single mouthful of pasta.

    You are for sure a traveler in the making.

  2. I love this entry! What a wonderful evening, and what a lovely way to learn Italian!