Sunday, May 13, 2012

Festa della Mamma, Bürgermeister-style

Dear Readers,

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.




  1. Seriously! I was wondering the same thing about your good seed of a husband. Happy to see you around again. Thanks for another pitch-perfect post.

    1. Aw, Michelle, thanks. I hope Mommypalooza was good to you, too! You're an awesome mamma :-)

  2. Mother's Day (for me) was exhausting. My husband does not seem to celebrate it and tells me it's a more recent "tradition" in Italy, not something that they used to celebrate in school. I wonder about that!

    I know lots of American moms who did not get treated to Mimosa and brunch, however. Sigh...Some moms have told me that it's up to me (and hopefully the schools) to train my husband and kids to celebrate this day.

    1. I'm sorry your day was so tiring! That stinks.

      To tell the truth, I'm not big on these made-up holidays which seem more about selling stuff or which at the least seem to be about forced celebrations (i.e. Valentines Day). However, I think it's important to be considerate and show gratitude to those whose daily, often unseen efforts oil the machinery of our lives, so to speak. So in this sense, I think the important thing about Mother's Day and Father's Day is that they are occasions for teaching the youngins about just that: showing gratitude to others.

      Of course, the point of this post had more to do with just showing basic consideration, regardless of the day :-)

  3. OMG so excited about finding this blog!

  4. Martin1:50 PM

    Me too stop delighted stop write more stop dont let the flow stop

    1. Martin, thank you for your readership and support. I will write more, have a few posts in the pipeline in fact, but am finding the whole process of writing about Italy a bit fatiguing of late--perhaps an inevitable blogging syndrome after a few years of being at it. This, coupled by the fact that I'm currently in the U.S. for the summer, means a dearth of posts lately--sorry for that!


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