Eau du Thief

Don’t quote me on this because I have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, but there was thi

Eat Me

After six years of teaching English to Italians – themselves, byproducts of their culture; themsel

The Day the Earth Stood Still

In the days since the election, reading my Facebook feed has become a lurid exercise, like picking t


Things I Will Never Get Used to About Living in Italy. A Love Rant.

July 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

School is out, the rains have gone, and once again, the beach umbrellas are up along the curving beach. It’s officially my third summer on the Italian seashore. Lather up the sunscreen. Rinse off the sand. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I’m a pro at this Culonese beach life by now. The tourists are back, just as I knew they’d be. They are clogging up my parking spots and making noise at night once again. I’m not white like mozzarella anymore, but toasty beige like scamorza, yet the villagers continue to ask me: Aren’t you going to the beach? I no longer get annoyed; by now, I know it’s just Culonese small talk.

We have, once again, the weekend dithering:  Which city? Which outdoor concert? Which English-themed pub? Which summery dress?  and the boys are back to their Uh oh, here she comes – the foreigner with her foreigner hat! Seriously, you can just tell she’s a foreigner when she wears that hat. Could you BE any more American right now? Followed swiftly by – wait for it – Come on, let me try your hat on.

You all know you love it.

There’s a rhythm in this town and you’d think that after nearly almost 2 years here, I’d be integrated. You wouldn’t be wrong. There are lots of things I’ve gotten used to living away from the United States; living in Southern Italy. Celsius is slowly beginning to make sense – heck, I even voluntarily switched my Google weather reading from Fahrenheit the other day. I’m used to the bacetto. I’m used to the hand gestures (love it). Used to people crossing the street any time they damn well please, and I’m used to the fact that the police are useless and I’m not to count on them for anything. Ever.

I now have a guy for everything – my frizzed out hair, my worn down heels, my pergola fillets, my spicy local sausage, my rattly alternator, my leaky washing machine, my spotty polyester dresses.

I now can direct tourists on where to go (Temple of Minerva), what to see (the ancient quarter), and what to eat (bombe, boar sausage, muscatel grapes).

I now plan my meals based on what foodstuffs I am gifted on any particular week: eggs from Piero’s neighbor, a foil-wrapped wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano from Old Man Angelo, lemons or avocados from Flora’s garden, a surprise kilo of mussels from Maria.

I no longer have a problem with the “pausa di pranzo” – those 3 or 4 hours that Italians take for lunch. Plan around it, that’s all. Enjoy.

I now often think and dream in Italian.

I’m accustomed to the fact that if I turn on the radio, there is a 90% chance that I will encounter a Police song.

I’ve made peace with the existence of Fabri Fibra.

I agree that Terracina should be named a UNESCO heritage site and will be indeed signing that petition!

But even with all this assimilation goin’ on, there are some things I still cannot, simply cannot, get used to about life in Southern Italy. Namely: Read the rest of this entry →

Food Slut

April 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

It’s April 5th and we’re in Hungary: in Budapest, at an Easter Market, staring down wooden kiosks laden with painted Easter Eggs, bottles of elderflower syrup and strawberry wine; giant cast iron skillets heaped with fat red sausages, rainbow-colored root vegetables, and spicy potatoes.

One kiosk attendant stirs a black cauldron full of porky, savory gulyás. Another rolls out floury potato dough to shape into dödölle.

There are glass tanks of fresh lemonade, teeming with thin slices of lemon, limes, and oranges. Side dish stations overflowing with tangy sauerkraut, plump beans, and sour cream. Grills sizzling with juicy sides of pork. Artisan Hungarian beers. Pots of pork-and-rice-stuffed cabbage. Chicken on the bone!

It is in this wonderland of traditional Hungarian deliciousness that I opt to try the rooster testicle stew.

Read the rest of this entry →

The Prodigal Pigeon Returns

April 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

Three things:

  • Last fall, I got a steady part-time job in Rome that requires a crazy commute. Out of the house at 7 in the morning, back at 8 in the evening. Have lots and lots and lots to tell you about the joys of commuting with the broke-ass Italian public transit system, and more to tell you about Rome, and other stuff to tell you about my new job. But I’ve been ever so much sleepier now. And that’s why I haven’t updated in forever.
  • While I was busy adjusting to said commute and saying unfff, tomorrow to my wordpress dashboard page, my server got frisky and deleted my website without warning me. I have no idea when. Or why, for that matter. But I discovered this during my trip to Hungary last week, while checking my e-mail, when seized with a sudden urge to see how I Eat My Pigeon looked on my iPad. Like a big fat zero, that’s how.
  • Server contacted. Site back. Pigeon is back, too – home to roost.


I’ve had a fierce aversion to recapping past events since my earliest diaries. So I’ll just jump into some posts about things I’ve wanted to tell you, if ye don’t mind. Starting with one about balls.

Friday Fix – Diego on Knits and Wrap Skirts

December 2, 2011 in The Odd Siblings

I’m in New York City now, which means I’m not in Italy, which means I have no fresh Old Man Antonio fix for you this fine Friday, but I can, however, offer you Diego’s latest critiques of my clothes.

“Been busy knitting, I see.”

“So I see what you’ve done here is take a jacket and wrap it around your ass. No, it’s nice, really. It’s very hip. You look like a hipster. Good work.”

But on the other hand, he does approve of this:

“This is nice. It’s not bad. It fits you well. I bet you’re the only person wearing a white coat in New York City. Did you get this in Italy? It’s nice.”

Baby steps, my friends. Baby steps.

America – It’s What’s For Lunch

November 30, 2011 in Ex-Patriate Games, Oishii, spazarific

This just happened.

Ohhhhh, mama.

America – I love us.

November 21, 2011 in spazarific, The Odd Siblings

Heading home for the holidays soon. Pinterest is slowly teaching me how to dress. Also have a new hat. Will Diego approve? Time will only tell.

Ten Italian Songs You Would Love if You Knew They Existed

November 18, 2011 in dialect, Italia, spazarific

You silly Italians with your love of English-language songs even though you have no idea what they mean! You crack me up. I love you. You make me warm inside, even as I chuckle sardonically each time I hear a DJ attempt to translate a song title – half the time, you dorks are wrong. I also laugh when you claim that everything in Italy is better and that nothing America makes is any good – which is why your favorite movies come from Hollywood, your sneakers are Nike, and Nirvana is your favorite band. But I digress.

I’m fascinated by the pervasiveness of English-language music around the world. How did we get the monopoly on far-reaching tunes? Why aren’t English speakers more open to embracing music from other cultures? It’s not as though other countries don’t produce amazing music – yet, at music stores back home, “World Music” is usually banished to a single lonely shelf.

I can’t enjoy a song if I don’t understand the words is a common argument. Certainly, there’s something to be said for being able to “get” all facets of a song: every once in a while, my Italian friends will ask me to translate a song for them and in the 60s and 70s, many chart-topping American songs were covered by Italian singers to make them more accessible to Italian audiences. But – and feel free to argue with me if I’m wrong – in the end, it’s the beat that makes the music, so usually, it goes like this:

My friends: I’m honey, honey, honey, honey.

Me: What the hell are you singing?

My friends: I’m honey?

Me: It’s “I’m horny”, not “I’m honey.”

My friends: Oh. I’m horny, horny, horny, horny.

Me: Do you even know what that means?

My friends: No.

Me: Do you want to know?

My friends: I guess. Sure. Whatever.

You can protest all you want, but I don’t believe for a second that if you heard a fantastic song in another language that you wouldn’t love it. To test my theory, I present you with Ten Italian Songs You Would Love if You Knew They Existed. The older songs are songs my parents raised me on and the more recent ones are songs I’ve come into contact with since I’ve been living in this crazy boot.

The reason you will love these songs is because I love them and you and I – we always agree.

Read the rest of this entry →

Friday Fix – Old Man Antonio on Going Out

November 11, 2011 in Old Man Antonio, spazarific

I’m in Vienna and hungover but it’s Friday and I promised you (or mainly myself) to pop out an Old Man Antonio fix on this holiest of days so:

OLD MAN ANTONIO: E, I’m going now.

ME: Great.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: I’m tired. I’m going straight to bed.

ME: No partying tonight?

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Hah! Where? This town is dead.

MAFALDA: I’m going to the Penelope Club.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: To do what?!

MAFALDA: Drink, dance.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: But you’re old like me. Why the fuck do you want to do that?

MAFALDA: It’s fun. I may be old but I’m not dead. I can still go out and enjoy myself. The Penelope Club is nice.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: You mean The Prostate Club.

Friday Fix – Old Man Antonio on Successful Marriages

November 4, 2011 in Old Man Antonio

OLD MAN ANTONIO: All men cheat on their wives.

ME: Is that so.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Yes. In fact, there is only one woman a man will never cheat on.

ME: Really.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Yes. A pumitrozzola.

ME: A what now?

OLD MAN ANTONIO: A pumitrozzola. It’s a portmanteau. PU – puttana*- MI – mignotta*  - TRO – troia* – ZZO – zzoccola* – LA – latrina*. A woman who is a pumitrozzola will never get cheated on.

*whore, whore, whore, whore, whore

ME: So men should marry whores?

OLD MAN ANTONIO: That’s not what I’m saying.

ME: That’s exactly what you’re saying.

Five Myths About Italy

November 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

A few months ago, I was interviewed by Blog Expat for their Expat Interviews feature; a lovely time was had by all. Answering the questions made me reflect deeply on my years living abroad – how did I get here (Ryan Air)? What advice would I give other expats (stock up on Jell-O)? But the question I had the toughest time answering was: What is the biggest myth about your adopted country? Now that was a real head-scratcher; a real Sophie’s Choice of a question. In the end, I went with perhaps the largest myth I encounter: Italy is paradise; nothing bad ever happens there; it’s beautiful delicious dreamland; how dare you complain about anything if you live there? Right… if you’re just on vacation and don’t have to deal with bills, work, garbage build-up, and the giant, unreliable pain in the ass that is the Italian public system.

Italy, you KILL me.

But I digress. While I greatly enjoyed getting that off my chest, I soon realized that I was still unfulfilled. Had I really done enough? This ring. This watch. There are more Italian myths I want to bust for you. Here. Take my hand. Take a breath. And prepare to get your cultural preconceptions rocked.

Read the rest of this entry →