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Meet The Parents – Italian Style

Meet The Parents – Italian Style

So, you've made the move. There's a job, a flat, a few people around you that in the future could possibly be given the title of 'actual' friends, and the language? Well, you're getting there. You no longer become all stuttery and flustered when asking for meat and cheese at the deli counter (we won't dwell on the time that you accidentally ordered 8 times as much proscuitto as you actually needed and were too embarassed to say anything).

So, you've made the move. There's a job, a flat, a few people around you that in the future could possibly be given the title of 'actual' friends, and the language? Well, you're getting there. You no longer become all stuttery and flustered when asking for meat and cheese at the deli counter (we won't dwell on the time that you accidentally ordered 8 times as much proscuitto as you actually needed and were too embarassed to say anything).

And, somehow, you've managed to get yourself a boy/girlfriend. They don't speak much English (but this helps your Italian) and they don't grasp the concept of queuing, but they're great. You like them a lot. One month, two months, six months go past, and then comes the inevitable question (no, not that question):

So, do you want to come for dinner with my parents?

Eeeeeek!

Meeting the parents holds some weight here. I've had boyfriends in the past that have been introduced to my mum and dad after about a month, over a cup of tea. But here? Absolutely not. Down in the south, that is just not the way to do it. For a start, they wouldn't be seen dead drinking tea. It's an official occasion which really means something.

Yes, it means major panic and possibly some hand trembling, not to mention some mild to extreme perspiration.

So yes, this is where I'm going. The whole 'first parent interaction' event. I had already had some very mild interaction (in the form of exchanging baked goods) with my boyfriend's mum, but nothing concrete. So, when I was told (at least two weeks in advance) that there was to be a 'dinner' at their house, I experienced two things:

1. According to my boyfriend, I was clearly 'good enough' to be introduced. Well done me.

2. Would I be 'good enough' , according to his parents? Ah. Merda.
So the evening finally rolled around, and a few hours before, my boyfriend advised me to take a gift. A gift?! This was getting too stressful. I was sweating already. I decided on a nice pot plant, put on some high heels (who knows why I thought these would help me, as they just make me uncomfortable) and mopped my brow for the tenth time. I was ready (ish).

I climbed the 2 flights of stairs up to their flat, plant wobbling precariously as I went. Then it was time. My boyfriend was wearing a shirt. He looked nervous too. That did not make me feel better.

I was welcomed, given a drink (not a stiff one, although it may have helped) and led into the dining room, where a fancy tablecloth had been laid out. Why I had decided to wear longsleeves was beyond me, as I could feel the heat already.

Jump forward a couple of hours, and there I was, chatting away (albeit with many grammar mistakes, 50% due to nerves, 50% due to, well, my inability to use Italian grammar) and feeling quite pleased with myself. The conversation had been pleasant and interesting, and even though my boyfriend's dad had said my Italian was 'more or less satisfactory', his mum had given  me lots of kind smiles. I love kind smiles. The food was incredible and I ate it all.

This gave me 10 points automatically. You know how Italians love their food.

So, despite the formal setting and the 'importance' placed on such an event, it went pretty well. There were definitely no embarassing moments, apart from when I forgot the word for 'tap' and proceeded to make 'twisting the tap' movements and big gushing noises.

It's been almost a year now, and I'm like one of the family. The second meeting I had with his parents was a lot less intense, but still with great food. And his dad recently commented that my Italian was 'really good'. *Beams*

To sum up, let me just give you some advice about meeting the parents in Italy:

  • Take a gift. It may seem formal, but do it anyway. Italians love giving and receiving gifts. (My boyfriend has 4 brothers. All with children. Best start saving.)
  • Don't wear long sleeves. Or any sleeves. If you're a 'perspirer', like I am, you may suffer somewhat. Especially if you meet the parents between May and September…
  • The food will be great. Eat it all, and you'll gain respect. Italians are passionate about food and cooking, so if they know you liked it, they'll be happy. And if you ask for seconds, they may want to know when the wedding is.
  • Be yourself. A don't worry about grammar mistakes. Your boy/girlfriend will help you if you get super stuck. Even if it's just by creating some kind of diversion.
  • Ask about the family, and talk about yours. Italians are always happy to chat about family.

So, if you're soon to meet the parents, be prepared, but make sure you enjoy it. Compliment the food and compliment the house. It will be spotless, but they'll apologise for the mess anyway.

Oh, and don't wear heels.

Amy Jones
@BritInItaly
sunshineandtomatoes.blogspot.it