Italy has Mother's Day, too. "Well, of course--duh!" you may very well say. This is, after all, the land where mamma-hood was practically invented, the land of the cult of the virgin Madonna (the mother of all mothers), and the land where mammoni lurk and smirk in every coffee bar.
To be honest, I don't know how most Italians traditionally celebrate this day--but my guess is that they don't take their colorfully-corsaged moms, grandmas and wives to crowded, busy restaurants for bloody marys and mimosas and a nice break from kitchen drudgery, like us folks Stateside do. But I hope they make a better show of it than my brother-in-law, the Bürgermeister, does.
Here's how it goes down in the C______ Compound:
The Bürgermeister calls the MIL a few days before to inform her that he's bringing Frau Wiener and their two daughters over to celebrate Mother's Day. The MIL asks what they'd like to eat and the Bürgermeister discusses the menu with her. The MIL--who's pushing eighty--busies herself with preparations. The Bürgermeister and Frau Wiener arrive in separate cars--the Environment be damned--and descend upon the cramped salotto with blasé pusses and ravenous appetites. They are served, as usual, by the MIL, who's swathed in one of her chintz smocks and shuffles hurriedly back and forth from steamy kitchen to laden table, while everybody else sits on their cans and stares at the TV. When it comes time for dessert, the Bürgermeister unwraps with a grand flourish the torta he's purchased (being sure to intone solemnly that it's from one of the very best pasticcerie in Florence) and places it in the center of the table. He may even cut a piece and hand it to the MIL. The MIL scarfs down a slice before jumping up to serve everyone coffee, and then begins clearing the table and the long ugly job of cleaning up.
|"Festa della mamma un cazzo!"|
By way of contrast, my husband--a fine man by any measure--made this American mamma a meal of tender sauteed mussels and flavor-packed salmone in cartoccio, plied me with a crisp Umbrian white, and capped off our little party with a delicious blackberry tart and a hearty shot of grappa. Not bad. Not bad at all.
And he did all the clean-up.
Which, of course, begs the question of whether or not he was left on the in-laws' doorstep as an infant by self-sufficient and ridiculously thoughtful aliens.