Image via WikipediaHmm. Been a while.
Wot, no beer? - Everyone knows that Italians know about food and wine, what I don't understand is the blind spot when it comes to beer. Obviously they find wine much more appealing, but I can't get my head round the fact that they have no interesting beer on their supermarket shelves. Obviously they don't have to be as interested in beer as we are, but it seems odd that they're not more bothered about it when they can be so anal about other comestibles.
White Bread and Sandwiches - Again, this is odd because it doesn't seem to tally with the tendencies of the Italians themselves. In addition to being more bothered about food than we are, Italians seem to be more interested in their health too. Now, we all know that sensible grown-ups eat brown bread because its better for you, and young whippersnappers are the ones who will only eat white bread and even have special hybrid bread made for them to tempt them away from the white variety. But if you go into an Italian bakery, you'll see heaps of white bread, and if you're lucky you'll manage to make out some brown stuff in the corner. Monica tells me that it's something to do with the fact that brown bread has historical associations with poverty (a phenomenon that was widespread much more recently in Italy); that's fair enough, but talk about old habits dying hard!
Then there's sandwiches. Monica doesn't like English bread; it doesn't meet her expectations, which is easy to understand if you buy normal bread in Italy, it's much more hard, so English bread seems, well, half-baked, which apparently is bad for the digestion or something (made of flimsy stuff these foreigners, eh?). Well that's fine by me; different strokes for different folks and all that. What confuses me is that when you get a tramezzino (sandwich) it always comes in this ridicuolous plasticy white bread without crusts which seems to me to be the epitome of poor quality.
Bidets vs. Shit Toilets - In Italy, everyone has a bidet. That's just how it is. The Italian abroad is generally in want of a bottom-cleaning device and surprised (possibly somewhat disgusted) to see the rest of the world getting on without them. However, while this area of fundamental hygiene seems so important to them, their spotless domestic bidets stand in stark contrast to their wretched and rare public toilets. Woe betide the hapless wayfarer who dares to do their business out of doors. You usually have to pay, they're sometimes of the hole-in-floor variety (the country that gave us aqueducts now wants us to wee on our shoes?), there's never any bloody soap, an electric hand dryer is a rarity and the paper towels have usually run out; then of course they're mucky and full of graffiti. Hold it in, that's my advice.
Ridiculous Names - I've noticed that Italians seem to have a disproportionate number of outlandish surnames. Some examples: we bought our clothes rack from the Bastardi (yes, bastards, obviously) round the corner, the rt. hon. Bocchino (blowjob) is a well-known politician and another Bocchino earned Italy 8 points in the Rugby World Cup with conversions this year, I've seen reports on channel 7 by a Chiappaventi ((arse) cheek-winds) and an "and finally" story about people who go by the unlikely name of Mastronzo ("stronzo" literally means "turd", but Italians use it in much the same way as we use arsehole, of a person, only it's ruder).