Mele, Maiale e Miele. To the untrained ear these three words sound strikingly similar but mean quite different things, though not without their occasional synergy – apples, pork and honey.
It’s absolutely true what they say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. My language skills have improved to the point now where I can be lethal…to myself and all those around me! So much so that I can breeze in with a pretty accurate Italian accent and be mistaken for a native. This ability has the perverse effect of actually increasing the chances of misunderstanding rather than diminishing them. “He said it in such fluent Italian that he must mean what he said.” It’s the misplaced stresses and nuances in pronunciation that mean you can arrive at a completely different destination to the one intended.
Last week I hot-footed it down to my friend Franco at Remo’s butchers to buy a joint of pork for roasting on Sunday, a little British treat with apple sauce and a honey glaze. With aforementioned breeze I entered the shop and greeted the staff with bonhomie and chatted about the wonderful weather we were having in December. Why are we always surprised by the same weather every year?
“So what would you like?” The staff enquired as one after we’d chewed the cud. “Two kilos of your finest pork.” I answered assuredly. The faces frowned. “Are you sure? Two Kilos?”
“Yes, it’s for a traditional British dish. We roast it in the oven with some potatoes.” At this point any other self-respecting butcher would have chucked me out the door, but not at Remo’s. “O.K. give me a minute.” Said Franco as he disappeared into the back of the shop.
“So how much will that be?” I asked the staff, producing my thin wad. “The till says 30 euros.”
“How much?” I exclaimed.
“Well it’s the best in the region so you have to expect to pay a little more.”
“A little more! OK then, I suppose.” I replied, beginning to regret my promise to cook the Sunday lunch.
Franco arrived on the scene a few moments later, staggering in with a large brown box which he dropped rather quickly to the floor. “Pork in a box?” I wondered.
“Have a look.” Urged Franco. I opened the box to find a neat row of jar-tops. “What’s this?”
“Two kilos of the finest honey in Calabria.” He announced proudly. “Now, what wine would you have in England to go with this.” He said, moving to the racked bottles along the back wall. I think he might just have been taking the micky by then.
Friends of ours, an Irish couple, recently had their own story to tell. When they went to their local municipio to register their intention to live in this wonderful country and obtain their I.D. cards as proof, they were asked, after much form-filling confusion, to come back the following week with both their luggage. (This is not as bizarre as you might imagine, if you have any experience of officialdom in Southern Italy) Quizzical but compliant they duly turned up at the appointed hour and heaved their suitcases to the front desk. “What’s this?” Enquired the concerned clerk. “Have you lost your home?”
“It’s the luggage you asked for.”
“No, I said ‘next week come with someone who knows both the language! Mamma Mia!”
So to our competition…………
WIN A FREE JAR OF CALABRIAN HONEY!
And enter the “LITTLE KNOWLEDGE COMPETITION”
During the last year, as some of my Facebook followers will know, I have been quite amazed at some of the ‘Google’ searches that have brought readers to ‘Winning Over Italy.’ I oft lie awake trying to figure out what they were really searching for. This is a short list of my insomnia….there seems to be a tenuous link.
- A. Stone fox pictures of little willy (What!)
- B. Cpeàhebekobòinropoà (My keyboard can’t even replicate this accurately, suspect Russian)
- C. Roots in lateral pipe (An existential plumber?)
- D. Long legs crossed (On my site?)
- E. Wandering lust (possibly a grammatical error, or then possibly not)
- F. Roberto in Italy girl (Must be easier ways to find Roberto)
- G. Older women with long legs (Wrong site I think)
All you have to do to win the tasty jar (perfect for a cold with hot water, lemon and a snifter of whisky) is VOTE FOR YOUR FAVOURITE! You can do this either via the ‘comment’ section of this blog or by voting directly on the Facebook page..”Winning Over Italy.” It couldn’t be easier.
All voters names will go in a fashionable hat for an independent draw and the winner will receive their jar of honey. Rules: This is open to any reader in the world. Closing Date is 30th January 2012. Email address necessary for contacting privately for postal address.
NOW WIN 20 Euros!!!!! Send your funny (must be original) translation stories to this blog and it may be published on this site….funniest voted for will Win 20, yes twenty, Euros!
Hurry…..While currency still exists!!!!