Life is better with a soundtrack, don’t you think? Imagine the perfect tune matched to your commute, or your walk in the park, or your cooking adventures. “Be Italian” would be on my playlist. I invite you to take two minutes to add some music to your day (click on photo for the trailer version or the link under the photo for a more fun version).
If you haven’t clicked on the video yet – come on… try it… you’ll like it… If I cannot convince you to take a few minutes to watch this video, click on “Play” anyhow, and make it the soundtrack to reading this blogpost.
For some years now, Boxing Day has been “Go To The Movies Day” for me and Mr. KB and Son #2. The movies are often from the Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, Star Trek or Star Wars franchises. One year (2009) it was the film version of the (1982) Broadway musical “Nine”.
No one was dragged kicking or screaming to the movie theatre to see this “musical”. Son #2 especially is a Fellini fan and Nine is based on Fellini's semi-autobiographical film 8½. It is a star-studded cast with Daniel Day Lewis in the role of Guido (a role that Fellini reserved for Marcello Mastroianni). Even Sophia Loren has a cameo role.
I’m not Italian, but a while back was startled to realize “Italian” was a theme in my life.
The realization came when I stumbled across this tip for “finding your passion” - “Look at your book collection, magazines, DVDs, CDs and credit card statements. Notice any themes?” [Source]
And what to my wondering eyes should appear? So much of my novel-reading, current and past, fiction and non-fiction has been set in Italy!! The Italian theme was indisputable (and almost spooky) when I added favourite music and movies to this mental inventory. And then there’s the cookies. If you’ve visited here often enough you know of my obsession with Italian cookies. That means I also have Italian cookbooks – and other favourite foods and cooking specialties that are Italian. For good measure, there have also been trips to Italy.
As an aside, the “find your passion” quote comes from an Oprah site. I never watched the Oprah Show – it was daytime TV and I worked full time and was not enough of a fan to PVR it. I knew she gave away gifts, her book selections could rocket you to bestseller, and her guests sometimes jumped on the sofa.
I didn’t watch Oprah, but she was in my life. I was an "academic" in a post-secondary setting where the mantra was “research-based” and “theory-driven”. Critical thinking and dialogue were welcome, but more than once, students would disagree with established research or theories with their own mantra – “that’s not what Oprah says”. The “Oprah-fication” of science and medicine was trending enough to become the focus of critical articles. [Source 1, Source 2]
Oprah seems like a nice person. I’m not dissing her – though in the classroom I found myself at times disagreeing with her. This side story serves only to illustrate my surprise that I gained an insight from oprah.com, not a textbook.
So… Italy is one of my passions. How could I not have known this? Are there any clues as to how or why this happened?
Despite growing up in a community that included Italians, I have few memories of Italy impacting my life in the first couple of decades. I was a teenager when I first had pizza and spaghetti. Undoubtedly, Chef Boyardee commercials would have been common (and that must have made real Italians groan).
My first outstanding encounter with Italian culture came via Lina Wertmüller, director of many films, though the two that I found to be most profound were Swept Away (1974) and Seven Beauties (1975). Mr. KB and I became fans both of her and her frequent lead actor – Giancarlo Giannini.
Here’s a spooky link to 8 ½ . Through her diverse experiences in theatre, Wertmüller met Marcello Mastroianni, who in turn introduced her to Federico Fellini and, in 1962, Fellini offered her the assistant director position on 8½!! (1962). For Seven Beauties “Wertmüller was the first woman nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director. Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, and Kathryn Bigelow are the only other female directors nominated (with Bigelow the first to win)” [Source]
One day I must curate a collection of my favourite Italian things – though it would be a long, long list. Permit me the indulgence of sharing a few highlights… [or skip to the end for links to Italian recipes and favourite Italian bloggers] - and I hope in Comments you share your “Be Italian” favourite things.
Films - in addition to Wertmuller, the award-winning Best of Youth mini-series (which introduced me to the Jules et Jim soundtrack); the sweetest Venice film - Bread and Tulips; the Sophia Loren and Clark Gable movie "It Started in Naples" (1960) - "Sure, sure - everybody loves Nando..." and that great song - "Tu vuò fà l'americano" (You Want To Be Americano). (Or watch the original by Renato Carosone.)
Did I say highlights? Sorry for being long-winded... I could list so many more in each section. I'll control myslef - but email me if you want more movie, book pics.
Cookbooks - well the obvious ones - you know who they are - plus my best sweets book - Dolci by Francine Segan.
Food - how can one choose... arancini, gnocchi and any pasta - will soon be trying Sugar Loves Spices Bucatini alla ‘Matriciana; and prosecco
Cooking Shows - Gennaro and Antonio on Two Greedy Italians.
See... now I'm running out of steam. Please send me all your Italian reading, listening, viewing tips!
Favourite fellow bloggers who focus on Italian Cooking:
Maria at She Loves Biscotti
Nicoletta and Loreto at Sugar Loves Spices
Nadia at Mangia Bedda!
Angela and Anna at Nonna's Way
Laura at An Italian Canadian Life
Marisa at Marisa's Italian Kitchen
and Emiko Davies
This says it all... è così o non è così?
Click on the word "Comments", below, to share your "Be Italian" favourite things!. If you enjoyed this read, please take a second to click on "Like"!