How to not be rude in Italy

Jul 28th, 2003, 08:31 AM
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If your salad is a (poor & diet) side dish (contorno) , you will have them with your "secondo". Otherwise it will come by itself.
I have to point out that choosing your fruit and vegetables by yourself is usual in any supermarket in Italy, plastic gloves are provided nearside.

LeCanard is offline  
Jul 28th, 2003, 09:17 AM
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I am finding all this discussion of salad habits quite interestng, but it's probably because I am on a diet and therefore eating mostly salads. (Just trying to "make space" for the great meals I plan to eat on my upcoming trip) During all my travels in Italy, eating in both "high-end" (not exactly sure what that menas though) and local places, as well as at home with friends in various places, North and South, I have learned mainly what anyone living there already knows very well- that Italy is a combination of many very diverse regions, each with its own culinary styles and serving habits!
I never knew SALAD could prompt such debate!!
As for appearing rude in Italy, I believe that making the effort to learn a few words of the language before traveling there, and not being afraid to use them to begin all your interactions tends to get a very warm-hearted response, no matter what other mistakes in etiquette you might commit.
sognatrice is offline  
Jul 28th, 2003, 09:42 AM
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must be the influence of millions of tourists, but I've found salads listed in the appetizer sections of menus all over France and Italy. Of course those salads happened to be things like cold asparagus and roasted peppers or sliced tomatos with Mozzerella or multiple kinds of toasted goat cheese on a bed of mixed greens. Or am I mistaken? Who's calling a salad a salad? Maybe my definition of salad has stretched to cover a Euro definition of a cold appetizer?
uhoh_busted is offline  
Jul 28th, 2003, 10:32 AM
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All this talk of salad made me wonder what the origin of the word is. It's salt, which also gave us the word salary (not celery )

From Merriam-Webster's...

Middle English "salade", from Middle French, from Old Provençal "salada", from "salar" to salt, from "sal" salt, from Latin.
capo is offline  
Jul 28th, 2003, 11:12 AM
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Capo, let it never be said that you aren't worth your salt. You have such an inquisitive mind.
Chicago_Heather is offline  
Jul 28th, 2003, 09:49 PM
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Wow, what an interesting thread this turned into! I'm grateful for all your advice. I didn't know about not touching merchandise, I would have done it without thinking - that's the normal way in the US! I'll remember that one, and all the other great advice! One last question: Is it proper for my husband and I to split a meal? It's ok here in the States, but in Italy??? Neither one of us eats a lot (quantity-wise).
Bashaw is offline  
Jul 28th, 2003, 09:55 PM
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It is considered cheap and not classy but not rude to split a meal, we get around that by just quietly exchanging dishes after one person has eaten half and not making a big deal out of it with the waiter. Both people have to order something to eat though, so we order first courses and then split the entree or meat, then eat another course if we can.
Have a wonderful trip.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Jul 28th, 2003, 11:19 PM
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Although I wouldn't chalk this up in the category of rudeness (although you could later on accuse me of it) nor do I purport to be an expert in all things Italian, I'm glad I learned a certain custom at an Italian restaurant here in the States before I went to Italy.

In Rome, we were dining one night in a semi-elegant restaurant enjoying the ambiance when a group of loud, obnoxious fellow countrymen gathered at a table next to us. Later on, one of the ladies in that group asked for some cheese to go with her seafood pasta. The waiter, a most friendly server who was all smiles previously...his face took on a sour complexion and replied with a stern "NO!" The lady, surprised, asked "Why NAUGHT?!?!" The waiter gave another "NO" response. That table and the whole restaurant went deadly silent for a moment.

I peered all around the restaurant and noticed the European diners holding their gags and food back as much as possible. It was nearly impossible for me to keep my chuckling internal as well. Thank goodness for that incident, because that table was tons quieter from that point on! Suffice it to say, I left the friendly waiter a nice tip!
bluefan is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 02:00 AM
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> you should never touch a Japanese person on the head.

Coming back to a comment above by the original poster, first of all you should not touch a stranger on the head disregarding his/her nationality as some others already said but also I have never heard this is a taboo in Japan (they even tend to touch children on the head - sign of affection). Maybe a wrong country, Bashaw?
hike is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 05:14 AM
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Hi bashaw,

People who are not big eaters can order a "mezzo" (half portion) in most places.
ira is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 08:06 AM
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Another thing I had heard then experienced - when discussing numbers, perhaps negotiating, some Italians feel more comfortable writing it down. Once, when I requested a B&B owner to confirm the price for a room when we arrived, he fetched some paper and wrote it down, pointed to it and smiled charmingly at me. He spoke perfect English, and he didn't give me the paper either. Has anyone else run into this?
Ciao4now is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 08:06 AM
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If you want to scandalize a waiter ask for parmesan cheese when you order seafood pasta.. It is a Nono, although i pust cheese on everything, I refrain myself on doing that there.

kismetchimera is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 08:31 AM
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Hi Kismet,

You do, of course, have the right to put Reggiano Parmesano, with its full, rich, toasty flavor redolent of the earth, on your lightly and subtly seasoned seafood pasta, with its fresh fruiti de mare giving just a hint of the sea, and have it taste like a cheese sandwich, but you will have to answer to God for it.
ira is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 09:50 AM
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kismetchimera is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 10:30 AM
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We had that happen at several restaurants and stores on our recent trip, as well. I think in our case, however, it was usually when they weren't sure how to say the amount in English and wanted to be sure we had it correct. It was much easier for both the person writing, as well as ourselves.
Statia is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 10:39 AM
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The ITalians can be very resourceful.

When we asked the price(in Italian) of ceramic piece the shopkeeper showed us the price on a hand held calculator.

Although she didn't speak a word of English she was able to eliminate any confusion or misunderstanding on the price.

PS We bought the item.
Dick is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 10:59 AM
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My husband tells me that it is more a question of proper digestion in addition to the facts Ira points out. Cheese and shellfish just do not mix. He is amazed how we can drink orange juice when we eat yogurt.
Calamari is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 12:01 PM
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Hi Calamari,

I'm surprised that DH doesn't understand OJ and yogurt.

I make up a glass of OJ and add yogurt to it for a cooling drink on hot days.

I learned this from an Israeli friend.
ira is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 02:47 PM
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Like so many different cultures (I must say this first) Italians are not without their quirks. Some feel that the acidity of the two, dairy products and orange juice will stop your digestion. After 20 years, I still am not sure what that means exactly. Sort of like how they believe that a breeze or air blowing on you (called an infrescata) can kill you - one of the reasons they are not fond of A/C. I was so glad to finally find out another reason for the a/c shortage in Italy is that their homes and some businesses just are not wired for it. The average American household has six times the voltage capacity of the average Italian household. Also, as everyone already knows, electricity is v. expensive over there. Does DH stand for darling husband?
Calamari is offline  
Jul 29th, 2003, 03:01 PM
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DH sure is a darling husband.

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