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Male Bonding Italian Style
Discover what "guys night" is really like in the Boot. Trust me, it's not what you think.
By Francesca Di Meglio
Men in southern Italy spend a lot of time together. People, in general, make more time for friends and family, thanks to the siesta and more vacation time than Americans can imagine. But Italian women in the south, even those who work full-time outside the home, take on the burden of child rearing, cooking, and cleaning. Honestly, even their vacations seem like work to me. Without so many chores, the men – even the married ones – have plenty of time for their boys.
Yes, even 50-year-old men might refer to each other as "ragazzi" or 'boys." They're not hitting strip clubs like you might think. Those kinds of places exist here, but they don't have the same popularity – at least as far as I've seen – in this culture. Instead, there are other things grown men prefer to do when they are together. – and it's a lot more innocent than you probably thought. Here's how men bond in the Boot:
- Eat a gourmet meal.
Food is a big part of Italian life as most people know. And even though women tend to do most of the cooking for the family, the men aren't completely left out. Most of them are foodies with an interest in fine cuisine. My husband and his friends recently gathered for lobster. Another favorite is pasta in a cream sauce with porcini mushrooms, fresh homemade pasta with just about anything, or pasta covered in a simple sauce with truffles.
Some of the men will not only cook the meal together, but they'll also go hunting in the woods for mushrooms or truffles beforehand. They really make a day of it. Of course, if they go fishing, too, and then cook their catch together as well. The old timers really enjoy pairing the food with fine wine and eating the meal right in their cantina (or wine cellar). Most homes of yesteryear have one of those, and lots of people have maintained them nicely.
- Grab a gelato.
You read that right. It is socially acceptable for grown men to get a gelato with their friends much in the way American teenage girls do. Who can blame them? There are gelato bars open on every corner in the summer, and it's hard to pass up a cone of nocciola and fior di latte.
- Grab an espresso.
While you rarely see men having a drink at a bar without eating something – sometimes they go for apperativi, which consists of pre-dinner drinks and small bites to eat to whet your appetite – you will often see men at the "bar." In Italy, bars serve coffee more than alcohol. You can expect them to be standing – not sitting – at the counter sipping espresso and chiaccherando, which means chit chatting.
- Play cards.
Men – at home or at one of these coffee bars – are constantly pulling out the Italian cards and playing games, such as scopa and briscola. I can't tell you the number of times I wake up in the morning to find a scorecard from a game my husband had played the night before with his friends. Frankly, if he's home playing cards of all things, I can't really complain, right?
Di Meglio uses the written word to help families create memories and stick together. You can follow her on Facebook at Francesca's Newlyweds Nest and on Twitter @ItalianMamma10.
Article Published 8/03/15
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