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  • Posers Versus Real Italians
    Use this checklist to determine if you are a real Italian or simply a wannabe
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    Nowadays, there's lots of talk about Italians, especially in the United States, where every reality show seems to put the spotlight on our paesani. Unfortunately, these TV shows (think Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious, Real Housewives of New Jersey) have little reality to them. Some of the real people portrayed as Italians are not Italian at all or are so many generations removed from the home country that they don't even know what being Italian means. Oh, and obviously from the show titles, you might have already realized that the creators are confusing New Jersey for Italy. To clear things up for folks who might be unsure of their true identity, I've created the checklist below. Use it to determine if you're a real Italian or just a poser.

    POSERS vs. REAL ITALIANS

    POSERS call it mozzarell and prosciutt.
    REAL ITALIANS call it mozzarella and prosciutto.

    POSERS wear white undershirts (which they offensively call guinea tees or wife beaters) to show off their muscles.
    If REAL ITALIANS wear white undershirts, it is to keep warm or cover their chests when wearing a white button-down shirt with a suit.

    POSERS call themselves Italian but do not know from where in Italy their family hails.
    REAL ITALIANS either still live in their family's hometown in Italy or at least know the name of the town, might have visited at least once, and keep in touch with Zia Nanina to catch up on the gossip.

    POSERS own an Azzurri jersey but have never watched a soccer game and have no idea who legends like Paolo Maldini or Roberto Baggio are.
    REAL ITALIANS read that pink newspaper everyday and have long considered players like Paolo Rossi, Gianluigi Buffon, and Fabio Cannavaro as important to their life as their families.

    POSERS think it's cool when people think they're in the mafia.
    REAL ITALIANS think it's offensive when people think they're in the mafia.

    POSERS call what they put atop their pasta (and it's all called pasta or spaghetti) gravy.
    REAL ITALIANS call what they put atop their pasta (which can be anything from fettuccine to rotini) salsa.

    POSERS think they're visiting where they came from when they go to Florence, Venice, Rome, or Milan on vacation. For very few that might be true. But the large majority of Italians who left the country come from further south (Naples, Calabria, Sicily, Bari, etc.)
    REAL ITALIANS know exactly where their roots were planted and know the route back home very well (if they are not still living there).

    POSERS think Italian music is limited to "O Sole Mio" or the songs that have recently been remixed on English-language radio ("L'Italiano" by the Sicilians and "We No Speak Americano," a remix of "Vuo' Fa' L'Americano," by Yolanda B Cool and DCUP).
    REAL ITALIANS might get a kick out of the remixes but they also have Italian music - including but not limited to Domenico Modugno, Massimo Ranieri, Pooh, Gianni Morandi, Jovanotti, Eros Ramazotti, Gigi D'Alessio, Giorgia, or Laura Pausini on their iPod. And they know that the Toto Cutugno made "L'Italiano" famous, while Renato Carosone made "Vuo' Fa' L' Americano" what it is today.

    POSERS think chicken or veal parmigiana is an Italian dish.
    REAL ITALIANS know that chicken or veal parmigiana is actually a pale imitation of the cutlet Milanese (which is not smothered in cheese or sauce but is breaded).

    POSERS think their ancestors in Italy were fashion models, high-powered gangsters, or at least wealthy.
    REAL ITALIANS knew some of their ancestors and realize most of them were peasants, blue-collar laborers, or among the middle class.

    POSERS have no idea that octopus, tripe, and rabbit are among Italy's finest dishes.
    REAL ITALIANS know that Italian cuisine is more than just stuff smothered in red tomato sauce. In fact, they know how to cook octopus, tripe, and rabbit (which they might also know how to hunt and kill themselves to boot).

    POSERS think figs, lemons, tomatoes, etc. are things you buy at the supermarket.
    REAL ITALIANS know that figs, lemons, tomatoes, etc. are things you grow in your backyard.

    POSERS still think Italy is all history, beauty, and la dolce vita.
    REAL ITALIANS intimately know Italy's flaws from its corrupt and hypocritical politicians to its sagging economy and run-down, crime-ridden southern cities. But they find something to love about the homeland anyway.

    POSERS wear Italy's flag or Italian words only in their tattoos.
    REAL ITALIANS wear Italy's flag or Italian words in their hearts and dreams.

    Di Meglio is the Guide to Newlyweds for About.com, and you can follow her life and career at the Two Worlds Web site.


    Article Published 7/18/2011

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