In June, our Blogging Piemonte group tackled the topic of Authenticity in Piemonte. After I wrote my post, I a lot of other thoughts came up as to how I and the other expats somehow magically transformed more Italian.
This actually became more and more apparent after this past summer. I had a few visitors and after much reflection, I realised that my transition wasn’t just minor changes like the way I speak and dress my kids. It’s much deeper than that. I’ve narrowed it to 3 topics that I can add to my previous post.
1- How to handle the summer heat: The rumors are true. Most people don’t have air condition in their homes. Unless they rent out as a Holiday house and/or are rich, you’ll come across oscillating fans rather than a/c.
Here in Torino, we usually have a mild summer. Yes it gets hot and humid. The temperatures reach 30’s (C) but every once in a while, we’ll get even higher (38/39C) and it becomes miserable. This past summer we ALL experienced the African heatwave. In the 6.5 years that I’ve been here, I have never experienced a summer like that. It was awful. Unfortunately, my mom and niece were here to experience it and it put quite a damper on a lot of our activities. One of the things we did do was eat a lot of gelato and popsicles. I felt like I preached and begged for the 3 weeks they were here but sometimes I don’t think it sunk in. It.. being the importance of drinking water, staying hydrated and having a proper real diet.
In Texas, we love our air condition and we (over)use it. So on a hot summer day, we’ll drive to Sonic (cause we love some sonic ice!!) and get some DP (or drink of choice) and enjoy that sucker in the luxury of our air conditioned cars or perhaps while strolling the aisles at Target. Sadly, we don’t have Sonic ice, Target or A/C everywhere. You want to stay cool, go to the movies, museum or the shopping but if you want to stay home and cool off, you’re out of luck. That’s why we make such a big deal of getting plenty of fluids, staying in the shade and getting our gelato on. It’s really the only way to cool off. As far as proper diets go, the heat can really wear you down so you HAVE to eat.. real food. Eating a croissant for breakfast and then sharing french fries while you sightsee is NOT optimal for dealing with the heat; and drinking soft drinks only makes it worse.
2- Feeling safe and not walk around with a bullseye: Let’s face it. Most americans only worry about what happens on their home turf. When travelling they might forget that it’s a whole different game once they cross the big ol’ blue. So when 4th of July rolled around, I had to remind my mom that she can’t look like a walking talking flag. She protested that it’s our holiday and we should celebrate. As true as that is, we’re not at “home”. This is not America where you can sport your Red, White & Blue and wave the stars and stripes around. We’re in Italy and we are very close to Africa. What’s happening in Africa? A war!!
Every day Italy receives boatloads (literally) of immigrants. We don’t know if there’s a bad apple in there that wants to hurt us. Unfortunately, for our safety (and for those around us) we have to tone things down. We definitely celebrate in our home but you won’t see me in head to toe americana. I will however show some USA pride on my nails!
3- Real food!: If you’ve seen my Instagram, you know that I am all about food. I love to cook, bake and eat. Lucky for me, Italy is a country where locally grown food is readily available and still a way of life. I’ve mentioned before that when I first got here my body went into shock. I ate everything in sight and had pizza and gelato daily, yet I lost 15lbs in 4 months. I wasn’t trying to but it happened. As the years have gone by my kitchen repertoire has been kicked up a notch but if you ask my parents, I’m all fancy pants.
Gone are the days that I ask for Cheetos. I noticed my tastes have changed and I can no longer tolerate the horrible junk food that Americans consume. Slim Jim beef jerky.. I spit that sucker out! Marshmallows will sit in the cupboard for months without being consumed. What can I say? Even the candy tastes better here.
My new “diet” has made an impression on my parents as they continue to think that I’m “fancy” for actually cooking from scratch. It’s a constant struggle to get them to remember the good ol’ days when they used to cook and not just rely on opening a can or going out to eat because they have coupons. They’re always trying to force me to “just buy a pizza” instead of making my own.
Truth is I like the new me. I like that I’ve grown and become a different person. Even if that means being a bit overprotective and making my kids wear hoodies when it’s “too cool”. ha!