Three Reasons Why Having a Calabrian Father-in-Law Takes the Torta

Having a Calabrian father-in-law takes some adjustments.

– No matter how much you eat, it is never enough.

– You have to learn a new language to communicate, and I’m not talking about Italian.

– And no matter how hard you try you might never-ever!-decipher his hand gestures and grunts.

But all that aside, having a Calabrian father-in-law really takes the torta.

And here is why.

1. It is never boring

I’ve written a lot about how funny Italians are, especially my Calabrian suocero, Nino who told his sister he prays for me every night … because he is worried I don’t eat enough.

He also called the weather a bastard and told me I’ve given his son a disease, when my husband refused another piece of chicken and more broccoli … and a few weeks ago, he did it again.

My husband was serving guests at our bed and breakfast and one of them walked outside to enjoy the crisp Calabrian air. I heard my father-in-law mumble something under his breath, followed by a classic “Nino” grunt.

“What did you say?” I asked, thinking he was speaking to me.

“Ah, nothing.” He grumbled. “I thought that was Peppinuccio outside in shorts-but it is not. It is some other asshole!”

Gifts from Calabrian Father in Law

2. Every day is a gift day

Likely in an attempt to offset the fact that, at least in his mind, I don’t eat enough, every other day or so is “gift day.” Like many Calabrians, my father-in-law goes grocery shopping every day and almost every day he comes back with a surprise for me.

Check out the loot I got last week. Two Nutella Snacks (with tea), a three-pack of Pocket Espresso and a Kinder Sorpresa. What is not pictured is the two-pack of Gran Soleil desserts. Yum!

3. You can’t pull one over on him

I considered posting a photo to help you visualize my Calabrian father-in-law experience, and like any blogger worth her WordPress widgets, I asked my subject’s permission.

“Nino,” I began slowly. “I would like to put a picture of you on … ilmiosito … , ok?”

“What?” He asked. You know, he doesn’t hear well.

“A picture. Of you. sulmiosito.”

He looked at me, not smiling.

So I bargained.

“If you let me use your picture, I’ll eat meat. Every day.”

“Watch out,” my husband warned.

“Every day this week,” I clarified quickly.

He looked at me.

“Well,” I told my husband in English. “He didn’t say no.”

Nino’s head jerked up.

“No?” He repeated the one word he’d understood correctly.

“But I’ll eat meat every day.” I told him. “Please?”

“You’re tricking me,” he told me. “You can’t trick me!”

And that was that.

So, dear blog readers, I’m sorry, but you will have to continue to visualize my 70-something year old father-in-law, with his white hair, neatly combed back, his thin-rimmed glasses and gruff grin until I can convince him to pose.

Are your in-laws from a different culture than you? What are some of your favorite moments or stories?

11 Responses
  1. oh my gosh Cherrye, this was priceless! I hope you’ll be able to convince him to allow you to photograph him so we can all see him! It’s so danged cute that he brings you treats from the store. Hilarious.

    My Italian parents-in-law appear, to me, to be slightly INSANE, but are very sweet. A good story was when we were at the wedding of my brother-in-law (which also included the baptism of their almost one-year-old son!!). They started the communion part of the mass, and my father-in-law leaned over me to ask Marco why *we* hadn’t taken communion at our wedding. Marco had to remind him, “Um, because Kim is not Catholic, she’s protestant!” I thought a little fact like that might have stuck in his head, but apparently not . . . . : )

    Oh that is funny, too. I’d have thought they would have remembered that, as well, but just goes to show-you never know what to expect!!

  2. I love him! He’s just like me. We have even more opportunities in Umbria to call the weather a bastard, actually.
    He sees you as young. Help him hold that thought, sweetie, because you will need a bunch of those types later. I haven’t bought anyone a KInder Sorpresa since a 31 year old doctor who wants to be a kid insisted on it.
    When I come to Calabria I will scattare una foto of him and publish it, then you can link to my page. I’m old enough to command ya see, and I don’t have to live with the results.
    PS/ I am preparing a post using besciamella!

    See, Judith, that is what I need-someone who isn’t scared of him!! he he I actually have a few priceless pics, but I’m kinda scared Peppe’s cousins will see the post and tell on me. PS-Can’t wait for your recipe!

    .-= Judith in Umbria´s last blog ..Orange Cake: a sweet with a past =-.

  3. I love Nino. I am going to have to find a way to incorporate “it is some other asshole” into my interactions today. That nearly made me fall out of my chair.

    Wasn’t that hilarious? Ahhh … the stuff that comes out of that man’s mouth!

  4. Your father-in-law is adorable. I hope he lets you put up his picture one day or else I’ll have no choice but to come to Italy one day.

    Or maybe I’ll come anyway. đŸ™‚

    Yes! Come, come!

  5. Pat

    Your father-in-law loves you, and lucky for you he does, because if he hated you………uuuuuufffffffffffffaaa…LOL

    Ha ha ha ha ha! Good one, Pat!

  6. This is too cute. I have the same experience with my father-in-law. Since we moved from the States (where I left my family behind) to move to Croatia (Yes we have a language barrier). He told me one day when I was feeling homesick (“think of me as your father!” I was so touched). He also buys me presents. last summer he showed up with a pair of sandals and just yesterday he phoned my hubby that he found a nice pair of boots and needed my shoe size again. so sweet (not even my real Dad does these things!)

    A Mexican chica living in Europe

    Oh that is cute! I’m not sure my father in law and I would have the same taste in shoes!

    .-= Elisa´s last blog ..Which language do I speak? =-.

  7. Patrice

    I cannot tell you how much I would love to have a relative tell me that I don’t eat enough–and I also don’t eat meat. I have the opposite situation. I am from a Calabrese family, but my husband is sort of a conglomeration of the sterner parts of Europe: Germany, Hungary, Ireland, etc, etc. My father-in-law and I just had our first real conversation on the phone this last winter. Did I mention that I have been with his son since I was 18? The culture shock first set in the moment we met and I attempted to hug my future in-laws. They didn’t know what to do with me! We continue on like this every year–I hug and kiss them and they take it. So I push my luck: now I will sneak up behind my mom-in-law and grab her sides and listen to her scream. They’re learning.

    ha ha ha ha ha … what a mental.

  8. I love this post!! I just met my future suocero this past Xmas in Milano and he doesn’t speak a word of English, in fact he speak mostly in Pugliese dialect. My first language is Spanish, although I was born and raised in the states, my parents are from Mexico. Anyhow, he was watching a soccer match and started cussing at the tv, throwing his arms in the air and I smiled and laughed and said in my best Italian, “Oh, so some of our “parolacce” in Spanish are the same in Pugliese. I understood every word you said.” His face was priceless. He had this embarassed-oh crap type smile on this face, then 5 seconds later he threw his hands in the air and said something to the effect of “screw it” and continued his tirade against the tv. Hahahha! I love him, he is the cutest!

    That is precious! As I was reading it, I was thinking “I bet she could understand because of her Spanish …” Very cute.

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