Funny things happen all the time in Italy, and sometimes there are things Italians do or say that are just too amusing to keep to myself. I am not advanced enough in the language to know if they are true lingual expressions or if it is just some funny Italian making stuff up. But, Peppe’s dad, like most Italians (and many hospitable grandmotherly-type Americans) feels it is his life’s mission to keep “us kids” fed.

And, I let him down.


It isn’t that I don’t eat well, ’cause I do. But, you see, it is just NEVER enough! If I take one piece of chicken, he (tries to) push two. If I take two spoons of peas, he wants me to take three. If I have an average-size plate of pasta, he thinks I need one more spoonful. It is a constant tug-o-war, but in his defense he really DOES NOT THINK I eat enough. He even confesses his worries to his sister who in turn, asks me to “please eat more” so he won’t worry. (That in itself is funny enough, but I’ll continue.)

His epicurean habits aren’t limited in concern for me. He also gets frustrated with Peppe when he doesn’t eat first and second plates followed with fresh fruit – at – every – meal!

Now it is important to point out that while neither Peppe or myself are necessarily overweight – neither of us would perish if we lost a few kilos. Papa just doesn’t see that.

If he offers something and I decline, if is often followed with, “e’ buona”, or “it’s good!” Yes, I realize the food probably does taste good, but I just don’t want another piece of Eggplant Parmesan…or a little bit of mozzarella…or an apple! It makes me laugh because in his mind, why on earth would I not want to eat it??? It must be because I don’t think it will taste good – that is the only reason I would turn something down! Right??

Well, today at lunch I had two small slices of grilled chicken on my plate with an over-sized helping of broccoli (thanks to Peppe’s dad). I was eating, as always, more slowly than everyone else. Peppe finished his lunch of a nice-sized slice of chicken, broccoli, and bread and was about to help himself to strawberries when his dad began to urge him to take seconds.

“Noooooooo …” Peppe insisted. “I don’t want more chicken.”

Grrrr… (yes – it really sounds like a growl)

I look over to dear old dad and he is shaking his head in disparagement. He looks to me, then to Peppe.

“Look at her,” he grumbles.

“She doesn’t eat anything!”

Grrr …

“And now you have contracted her disease!”


After double-checking with Peppe that I understood correctly, I “contracted” a good case of the giggles – and I couldn’t stop…for a long time.

Ahhh … Italians say the funniest things, don’t they? Stay tuned.

16 Responses
  1. Gabriella

    Even Italians in Toronto are exactly the same way. When I started dating my husband, within the first 5 months I gained 10lb because it’s never enough what I eat! Heehee!

  2. Andrea

    Ok, so I will never forget the day you caught me eating icecream at Nino’s “suggestion”. I shoulda taken the apple or banana or whatever he offered the first time (or 10) around. Since I have such a deep understanding for your situation, I suggest a few plans. PLAN A: I’m not sure it’ll work but it’s worth a go…start out by getting considerably less food on your plate than you would normally get. THEN by the time you are offered seconds, you can be gracious enough to accept. The only problem I see is actually getting away with putting a smaller amount of food on your plate than you already do. PLAN B: Let Sophia Lauren come inside. Teach her how to eat scraps from your hand without Nino seeing. PLAN C: (I used to do this as a child, you can’t use it frequently, maybe only once or twice a meal) Take a HUUGGGE bite of food, then, as politely as possible without them realizing you have a huge bite of food in your mouth excuse yourself to the kitchen or bathroom to spit it out. (You might could fake a coughing fit and not even have to speak to excuse yourself.) PLAN D: Grab a few extra napkins and put them in your lap, put several bites worth of food in the napkin while Nino isn’t looking. Discreetly throw away at the end of the meal. PLAN E: Give in, eat a few extra helpings, go to more classes at the gym. 🙂 Have a great day! Ciao bella!

  3. Erin

    That’s a cute story. I especially loved the “grrrr” parts. I’m very lucky to not be married to an Italian for the very reason that I love, love, love Italian food and would very possibly be much heavier than I am. I’m not sure I’d know when to stop, I already have those issues…

  4. Cherrye

    Cassie – I agree with you, but I think in his mind, it just might be the worse!

    Gabriella – I am glad to hear other families are like this. He has everyone convinced I don’t eat – even random cousins ask me about it!

    Andrea – Hilarious! I love the suggestions. Maybe I should try a combo of the plans…well, except Plan E – I don’t wanna go to the gym more…

  5. Tracie B.

    my guys’ family has the same food issues. how in the world, after mozzarella, pasta and OIL, roastabeefa, and 2 contorni could i possibly refuse a HUGE BANANA?!

    just thinking about it makes my lovehandles hurt.

  6. Giulia

    *sigh* Italians literally cook with love, so you must mangia! lol
    If someone came to my home and spit my food into their napkin, I think I would have a fit. Then again, I would never put a person in a postion where they felt they would need to do something like that. I don’t like to force people to eat because I know what it was like to go through that growing up in an Italian family. They do have the best intentions though.

  7. j

    I have to say that this reminds me so much of my Italian grandmother. After I would finish a huge plate of pasta she would look at me with a concerned look on her face and say “manga, manga.”

  8. Louise

    That is hilarious…
    I would weigh a tonne if I lived there…not a pretty sight….LOL!
    Good luck with all your future meals with Papa!!

  9. Texas Espresso

    HAHA – that made me laugh! Can you spread that disease to me? I usually want to eat too much. hehehe

  10. Antonino Condorelli

    I’m agree with Giulia EAT!!!
    I’m waiting to finish my works in my home, so I’ll be very glad to have you and Peppe for a dinner. let me know what you don’t like to eat…
    Please Eat, è buona…

  11. cheeky

    I have an Italian aunt. Same thing. I didn’t eat enough.
    What a sweet father-in-law though, and funny too. I like how he put it, disease and all. Too funny.

  12. pat

    Another thing, just in case you didn’t figure it out yet, he wants to make sure you’re healthy for the grandchildren he hope you start producing a.s.a.p. now that you tied the knot. And in an Italian mind a fat chick is a healthy check. If he starts feeding you a lot of broccoli, he wants a boy…beware!

  13. Rosa (something)

    Are my Calabrian parents related to your in-laws? They certainly have the same genes! I think the word most often heard in my family is “mangia!”


  14. Cherrye

    Pat – he did give us broccoli last week. Uh oh!!

    Rosa – Is your dad’s name “Giuseppe??” ha ha Just Joking! What part of Calabria are your folks from?

  15. Wai Brozeski

    Broccoli is classified in the Italica cultivar group of the species Brassica oleracea. Broccoli has large flower heads, usually green in color, arranged in a tree-like structure on branches sprouting from a thick, edible stalk. The mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli most closely resembles cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same species.:

    Ciao for now

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