Sunday Random Ramblings, Vol.171

by Gio

Happy Sunday gorgeous!

Ready for another round of random ramblings? We’re talking food again today:

Italian Food & Table Customs

Italian restaurant

I mentioned before how food is a religion in Italy. We don’t only have strict rules about how to cook certain foods, but also lots of unwritten customs about how to order, consume, and pay for your meal when you eat out at a restaurant or have a snack at a bar.

Friends will not make you pay for your food, obviously, when they invite you to dinner, but they still expect you to follow certain customs. Disregard them at your own risk. Food is not a joke here. But you’ll be the butt of one if you don’t follow them. Here are the most common ones:

1. The words fast and food don’t go together that well in Italy. Yes, we sadly have McDonalds too, but we still take our time eating our meal, even if it is just a hamburger with French fries. Eating is a pleasure that should be enjoyed comfortably, not something to be rushed. That’s why you rarely see Italians eat in the streets (the only exception is ice cream) or public transportation. And that applies to drinks too. That’s why we don’t have Starbucks yet (booh!). Italians prefer to drink coffee at a bar, not while walking down the street.

2. A lot of restaurants, bars, and café don’t have an internet connection yet. So, if you want to upload pictures of your food to Instagram or just surf the web while you wait for your friends, sorry, no can do. Sooo frustrating!

3. Don’t ask for olive oil for your bread or parmisan for your pizza or seafood dish. If something is not offered, it’s not needed.

4. Do NOT cut spaghetti. Never, unless you want to be sneered and laughed at. Instead, learn how to twirl. I know it’s weird at first, but it is so much easier to eat spaghetti this way. And it’s not that hard to learn. If 4 year olds can do it, so can you.

5. You must eat pizza with your own hands. Use cutlery to slice it, then pick up a slice with your hands and eat it. It’s the only way to really appreciate a good pizza.

6. Wine, beer, and alcoholic drinks are usually consumed as part of a meal. Getting drunk at a restaurant is considered very rude. For that, go to a club or a pub, late at night.

7. If you need to call the waiter, don’t shout across the room. It’s rude. Either raise your hand to attract his attention, or wait until he’s somewhere close to your table and quietly call him over.

8. Don’t be afraid to say when you’re full. Italians will keep offering you food until you’re about to burst, so if you can’t really have another morsel, say so, strongly and repeatedly. Otherwise we won’t believe you and keep filling up your plate again.

9. When you’re finished your meal, call the waiter and ask for the check (il conto).  Don’t just sit and wait for someone to bring it to you at the end of the meal. If you don’t ask, no one will (at least not till closure time). After the waiter has brought it to you, you can go to the till and pay. But unless the place is full and people are waiting for a table, feel free to take your time and linger as long as you want. There’s no rush.

10. Tipping is not mandatory. A lot of online guides about eating in Italy will tell you it is, but here, I very rarely see people do it. If the service is particularly good, and the waiter goes out of his way to serve you, leave a small tip. Otherwise, it’s not necessary.

11. Most restaurants include a coperto charge (you’re basically paying for the privilege of sitting down and eating with a plate, fork, knife etc), which is usually about €2, sometimes less. It is illegal, but most people pay it anyway because they don’t think it’s worth it to make a scene or call the police for such a small amount of money. Some restaurateurs now say that coperto is charged for the quality of the service (basically, a tip, although I’m pretty sure it doesn’t end up in waiters’ pockets), but that’s crap. It’s still illegal and, if you don’t want to make a scene, you still have to pay it.

If you’ve ever been to Italy, which unwritten food and table manners have driven you crazy? What customs do you have in your country?

What I’m Reading Now

the like switchThe Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over by Jack Schafer, Marvin Karlins
As a Special Agent for the FBI, Dr. Jack Schafer profiled and interrogated terrorists and created strategies to detect deception. A big part of his job was to study human behaviour to figure out how to get criminals to trust him so they would confess their crimes and how to tell when they weren’t completely honest with him. A lot of the things he learned can be applied to daily life to make friends, ace job interviews, and just start conversations with strangers without being awkward. The book starts with the friendship formula, which explains what factors create and cement friendships. Then, Schafer focuses on body language and tone of voice, showing us how important it is to be able to read the non-verbal cues in a conversation so that, if something is wrong, we can fix it. But he also focuses on text messages and online communications when you can’t see the other person’s face. Communication then is trickier, but there are ways to make it work smoothly, and also to figure out if the other person is not being honest with us, even without reading his/her body language. Written in an engaging, simple way, The Like Switch is an interesting and fascinating read that will help you better communicate and become friends with anyone. Available at Amazon.

The Links

Objectification, leggings, and who’s really to blame – Beauty Redefined

Why is Tea Tree Oil Still the Underdog of Acne Treatments? – Acne Einstein

What products are good for sensitive skin? – Lab Muffin

This Year, #LoveTheMirror – Adios Barbie

Benjabelle Brush Tree: a better way to dry brushes? – My Women Stuff

Sunday Survey, Vol.237

1. Have you ever travelled abroad for work?
Nope, only for pleasure so far.

2. What’s your favourite eyeliner colour?
It used to be black, but these days I prefer brown. Much less harsh, yet it still defines the eyes beautifully.

3. Three things you’re thankful for today?
The internet, amazing friends, concealer.

4. Would you rather be trapped in a broken elevator or on a broken ski lift chair?
Elevator, definitely! I hate heights!

5. Do you like late-night talk shows?
Not really. They make me fall asleep! Lol.

It’s your turn now!
1. Have you ever travelled abroad for work?
2. What’s your favourite eyeliner colour?
3. Three things you’re thankful for today?
4. Would you rather be trapped in a broken elevator or on a broken ski lift chair?
5. Do you like late-night talk shows?

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Marina(Makeup4all) February 15, 2015 - 5:39 pm

Thanks for sharing about the food traditions in Italy. And that books sounds interesting, I was reading something a bit similar by Derren Brown recently.

1. Have you ever travelled abroad for work? Yes.
2. What’s your favourite eyeliner colour? Dark brown
3. Three things you’re thankful for today? My family and friends, books and good food.
4. Would you rather be trapped in a broken elevator or on a broken ski lift chair? Lift, but I hope that won’t happen.
5. Do you like late-night talk shows? No.

Gio February 15, 2015 - 8:05 pm

Marina, I’m glad you enjoyed reading about our food traditions. I must check out Derren Brown and his book. Sounds interesting too.

Livia February 16, 2015 - 7:16 am

Regarding eating pasta, I’ve also heard that tourists eat it with fork and spoon, however, Italians don’t usually use the spoon. Is that so?

Gio February 16, 2015 - 8:18 pm

Livia, it depends. In the south of Italy, a lot of people eat spaghetti with both spoon and fork. But as you go north, people only use the fork. I don’t really see the point of using a spoon tbh. To me, it’s just another thing to wash and clean later. 🙂

Jean February 17, 2015 - 7:02 pm

I loved the travelogue tips about Italy. Some day I hope to get there. It’s on my bucket list.

1. Have you ever travelled abroad for work? Yes.
2. What’s your favourite eyeliner colour? Medium brown
3. Three things you’re thankful for today? My faith, family and friends, good health.
4. Would you rather be trapped in a broken elevator or on a broken ski lift chair? Elevator, definitely. It scares me just to think about dangling in the air in frigid weather.
5. Do you like late-night talk shows? Dating myself – I have to say I enjoyed the Tonight show with Johnny Carson. I also liked letterman. But I don’t stay up that ate anymore.

Gio February 17, 2015 - 9:18 pm

Jean, I’m glad you enjoyed my tips about eating out in Italy. I hope you manage to come here. It is a beautiful country.

Kelsey M February 18, 2015 - 7:45 pm

Reading this post makes me nostalgic for the 2 weeks I spend in Florence a few years ago….boy do I miss the love and appreciation for food with *every* meal!

1. Have you ever travelled abroad for work? Sadly, no…but when I become a successful blogger, maybe I will!
2. What’s your favourite eyeliner colour? Dark brown.
3. Three things you’re thankful for today? The sun, the stargazer lilies I’m smelling from the window and the recipe testing I did today (even if it was a failure I figured out some steps on where to go the next attempt!)
4. Would you rather be trapped in a broken elevator or on a broken ski lift chair? Ski lift- at least I’d be outside!
5. Do you like late-night talk shows? Nope!

Gio February 19, 2015 - 9:33 pm

Kelsey, I hope you enjoyed your trip to Florence. It’s a beautiful place, and the food there delicious!


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