The first time I visited Italy with my Italian girlfriend (now long-suffering wife), we had Christmas lunch with her extended family.
The group of strangers around the table included her grandmother, who sadly died not that long after, before I’d had much chance to learn Italian and so get to know her better.
What I do remember, apart from the fact that she was small, old and dressed mostly in black, were two expressions she used that day, each translated into English for me by other family members keen to show off their foreign-language skills.
One was about how a meal isn’t complete until you’ve rounded it off with some cheese….
“La bocca non è stracca se non sa di vacca.”
“The mouth isn’t tired if it doesn’t taste of cow.”
I couldn’t have agreed more!
Though it sounded better when Teresa said it (in a crackly old-lady voice) than it does in English.
The three multi-syllable words, with the ‘double-c’s pronounced as ‘k’s, give it a pleasing rhythm.
Bocca, stracca, vacca!
So that’s one to memorise – that way you’ll be able to come out with it, to pleasing effect, whenever you’re at a vegan dinner party.
Another of Teresa’s expressions was “l’acqua fa ruggine”.
“Water makes rust.”
Why drink the stuff, with its insidious and destructive effects even on metal, when you could have a nice glass of wine instead?
Talking of water (if we must), here’s the first in a new free series of Italian lessons which covers precisely that.
It’s suitable for intermediate or higher-level learners, and for alcoholic non-vegans…
(Other recently-published free Italian lessons can be found on our ‘New‘ page.)
Fantozzi didn’t sell a lot of copies, being rather niche in terms of humour.
I liked the part in which he mistakenly asks the staff of a Japanese restaurant to roast his girlfriend’s dog, which is then served to her.
So I admit to some surprise when, overnight, I received an email from a university library asking whether I would consider selling them a copy for their archive…