I am learning that Italians are a scared bunch of people. Sometimes I don't know how they manage to leave the house, and let's be honest, in small villages lots of people just don't, but that's another story! I never realised how dangerous the most simple things can be.
In Calabria in particular it is popular to eat fruit after a meal, rather then sweets. A while back, last year I think, after dinner with bel fidanzato's parents the fruit bowl was placed on the table. We all reached in and I pulled out a juicy looking orange. His parents were staring at me, a look of shock and fear flashed across their faces. What was I doing? they asked. Umm, I thought we are like, meant to eat fruit after dinner to help our digestion. (Another thing I have learnt. Who knows about digestion in Australia, not me...) I looked around the table and the fruit of choice was mandarins, not oranges. No, you can't eat an orange after dinner! Ok then. I can't remember exactly why, I think it had something to do with the acid upsetting my digestive system and not allowing me to sleep, or something like that. As always is the case with me I said, don't worry, I am Australian, I have a strong stomach and can eat anything after dinner. I'll be fine! And I was fine, but to avoid the Italians at the dinner table being nervous for the duration of the evening, I avoid eating oranges at night, in public.
Another day when our shower was out of order we went to bel fidanzato's parents for lunch, then a shower. As soon as lunch was over I got up and walked to the bathroom. I'm off to have a shower, I called out. What? bel fidanzato's dad looked at me like I had said I was about to jump off a bridge. So soon after eating? It is dangerous to have a shower when your food starts to digest. I said, well, in Australia I have showers when ever I want, and I've always been fine. After a heated discussion it was decided that I had to hurry and have a shower before my food actually started to digest, or I had to wait until later when it was completely digested. I ran off as fast as I could to the shower, not wanting to cause my in-laws more unnecessary stress of having this foreign daughter-in-law who does strange things. Now, why is a shower after eating so bad? I guess it's like not swimming after you've eaten. Apparently the food won't be digested properly and it can get blocked causing you discomfort and even harm!
One of the biggest Italian fears is not food related, but all about the weather, or more precisely the dreaded wind. 'C'e vento!' There's wind, you hear everyone and anyone cry out as soon as the slightest hint of wind emerges. Even children are scared of the wind and I don't blame them when from an early age the fear of wind has been put into them. One such windy day a few weeks ago we were out walking with bel bambino, we braved the winds and survived, but don't forget I am Australian so have 'permission' to do crazy things like walk in the wind with a newborn. We passed an old man who was carrying wood into his house and his little grandson was watching from the door. Come out and help me, called the grand father, No nonno, I can't. There's wind! I was shocked. This child was about 4 years old and seriously was scared to go out into the wind. Now I am not so crazy that I take bel bambino out into the cold icy wind, but as long as he is rugged up and protected in the pram then a little bit of normal wind does him good!
If you live in Italy then I am sure you know about this fear of wind, and if you travel to Italy, on a windy day pay close attention to conversations as I am sure it'll all be about the wind.