I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, as sometimes one needs to humble themselves. What stuck out the most for me, has been the fact that I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for my upbringing in a Sicilian household. In honour of National Women’s Day in South Africa today, I wrote this for the woman who’s in charge of my mom and I, Nonna 😉
This post is also dedicated to my late Nonno Mario, who loved life and food and taught me the beauty of being a Sicilian. He was hardworking who always made sure there was food on the table for us, joker in the South African/Italian community and the number one Cannoli maker. The way he treated my grandmother like a queen, will always remain with me.
Here’s some things you may or may not know about Sicily and the joys of growing up in a Sicilian home:
My family is from Catania, which is on the ‘ball’ that the ‘boot’ is kicking, in case you didn’t know…
The first thing I’m always asked is, “Can you speak Italian?”. I speak one of the many dialects of Italian. Slang, if you must. I try to speak as ‘Italian’ as I can. Half the time, I have no idea what the Northerners are saying. And they don’t understand us. We also swear a lot. Because it sounds nice 😉
Our flag has a woman with three legs???
Stereotypically, we are known as the ‘slums’ of Italy. The short, dark, fat Italians. The memes are endless! I remember in high-school, we had two foreign exchange students from Milan and they refused to speak to me because I made a rookie move and told them where my family is from.
“You must have family in the Mafia?”…is a question I get asked a lot. Maybe I do?…
You had a fully packed lunch at school or work consisting of pasta, leftovers from the previous night, complete with serviettes, a drink and maybe even dessert. I was teased at school for this, but jokes on them… Nonna makes the best food… and I’m still thin!
If you cannot speak Sicilian, you are not Sicilian. Nonna will never forgive me if I do not pass this language down onto my offspring. And I have to have at least one child…no pressure.
FOOD. FOOD. FOOD. It is vitally important to eat at all times…even if you not hungry. If you don’t, Nonna or Nonno will make sure you do.
Pizza and pasta are not the only things we eat. Believe it or not, seafood is the staple diet and if you do not like seafood, Nonna will go on about it for the rest of your life until you do eat it. I’ve finally managed to eat prawns, fish and squid. Only took me like 20 years.
Chocolate and Cannoli’s are good for you.
The best memories are created around a dinner table.
Lunch or dinner usually consists of 3 or more courses. Growing up we had pasta as a starter, meat and veg for mains, cake for dessert, fruit, espresso and cheese and crackers to top it off. And people still wonder why I eat so much.
If you don’t have a boyfriend, your family will make sure you get a nice Sicilian boy…hopefully not a distant cousin (yes, that happens). My grandparents are very distant cousins by marriage, not blood. They were married for 50 years and we all turned out great.
Speaking loudly and hand gestures are programmed into us. I should’ve come with a remote control. I’m always told to calm down, when I’m actually speaking normally! At the table, it sounds like we’re fighting.
The wooden spoon comes in more than one size and is not only used for cooking…but as a weapon too.
Thee infamous ‘resting bitch face’. I swear, it’s not on purpose.
Hair. Hair everywhere.
And the best for last…dancing! Music and dance was vitally important in my home. No one can tango like my grandparents.
If you can relate, or come from a Sicilian/Italian family, let me know in the comment section below! I’d love to hear your thoughts, stories and family life!
Here’s to never forgetting who you are,