An Italian Family Dinner



If you look up the word Italian in the dictionary, I’m sure you’ll find the word eating included in it’s definition.

Italians and eating are synonymous.

Italians, eating, and talking are even more synonymous.

The photo you see above is of my mothers side of the family sitting down for a traditional Italian family dinner.

Notice the man sitting in the middle holding the wine glass. That was my mothers father. And I can still remember to this day that until he filled his wine glass and took the first sip, NO ONE was permitted to eat a morsel of food. Everyone took their eating cue from my grandfather. I swear to god, it was like sitting at the table with Marlon Brando as the godfather.

I don’t know whether any of you have ever seen the movie Moonstruck, but if you haven’t please rent it because it epitomizes what being Italian is. And all of the scenes you’ll watch of the Castorini family sitting around the dinner table is exactly how an Italian family acts while eating.

They like to talk. They like to talk VERY LOUD. And they all like to talk at the same time while every sentence overlaps each other.

Food seems to bring out the passion in Italians to the point of having to SCREAM every single word they utter.

“RONNIE….PASS ME THE GRAVY!”

So, if you’re looking to have a nice quiet meal, please don’t eat with an Italian family because I guarantee you’ll require ear plugs and several glass of Chianti to calm your nerves.

I remember my stepmother saying that the first time she sat down with our entire family to eat dinner, she thought we were all going to kill one another. She comes from a German-English background where dinner was eaten almost in silence, so eating with Italians felt like being in a sanitarium cafeteria.

You see, Italians like to wait until they sit down to dinner in order to have family discussions. The dinner table is a place where everything is literally laid out on the table, which means it’s nothing for them to argue while food is flying out of their mouths; slamming dishes around, as they’re passing platefuls of stuffed peppers and eggplant.

Now, to an non-Italian this may seem like strange behavior. But to an Italian it’s perfectly normal.

Dinner wouldn’t be dinner unless one good, heated discussion (half in English, half in Italian) was completed by the time the cannolis and coffee were ingested.

But no matter what was said in the heat of the moment, ten seconds later an Italian family will be kissing and hugging one another; saying what a wonderful dinner it was.

The men will all resume into the living room; smoking Italian cigars. While the women will resume into the kitchen; doing dishes and preparing Italian doggie bags for everyone to take home with them.

All looking forward to their next family dinner….




Mangia!

40 comments

  1. Ron,
    First thanks for your good thoughts, hopefully I'll be able to eat by next week some time!

    Wow, your post brought back many memories! My mother's family is Italian and since my pap passed away we haven't had any of this "sanitarium cafeteria dinners", and I miss them! There is nothing like eating with family. Nothing is sacred to these people either. When I first came out to my mother I wanted it to be a personal thing but the following Sunday at "dinner" she made the announcement to the entire family. This was probably the first time ever the whole table was quiet, I mean you could hear a pin drop. My German grandmother broke the silence with the question of the year, "Does it taste like chicken?"! I wanted to die!Thankfully everyone got over it quicky and the topic moved on to something else, but I was mortified for years after that. No wonder I am in therapy!

    have a great day!!!

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  2. Yup--I'd be mesmerized and not a darn thing would get ate.
    On the other hand, it's probably the right environment for getting out of eating meats! :-)

    k.....I might like an Italian family dinner.......

    :-)

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  3. Hey there Ronnie,

    You gave me a big smile today as I read your post.FABULOUS pics !! You know that I could look at old pics for hours.

    I had not been at a table with an entire Italian family. But our family was the quiet type at the dinner table. So, you warned me !
    Silly question but is the average Italo-American family as "tactile"?! I can just bet !!
    XXXX0000

    p.s. I loved the anecdote about your maternal grandpa & the " first cup" of wine !!

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  4. I forgot to say Ronnie, that I downloaded more travel pics yesterday.
    Just scroll down and you shall see :)

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  5. Ahhh.... loudly gabbing away eating yummy italian food while sitting around a big table with alot of interesting personalities... sounds like a wonderful time!!!
    Growing up, our dinners were small and fairly quiet. For a holiday there might be someone invited over like an Aunt and Uncle or my grandparents but it wasn't too often.
    Even at hubs house, for a special occasion dinner there might be 12 or 14 of us but the conversation was very boring and light and now we rarely see them at all anymore.


    I LOVE the movie Moonstruck. Just watched a few minutes of it on t.v. again last night.

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  6. Good Morning Brndoutw8tress!

    "Does it taste like chicken?"!

    HAHAAHAHAHAHA!

    OMG....how faaabulouus!!!!

    Your grandmother sounds like an AWESOME lady!!

    I applaude her!

    So you, being half Italian know what I'm talking about when it comes to "sanitarium cafeteria dinners!" Aren't they the BEST? It's like total insanity.

    Thank you SOOOO much for sharing on this post, my friend!

    It's so great knowing you!

    Sending "good energy" your way!

    Have a great day!
    X

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  7. Hiya Mel!

    OMG...you would DIE!

    My mother said she sat there REAL quiet the first time and could barely eat. She was a nervous wreck. Her family is so reserved, while my family is total insanity.

    Honestly...if you ever get to watch Moonstruck that's exactly how it is in an Italian family.

    But, I LOVE it!

    Thanks for stopping by, dear lady!

    Happy Wednesday to ya!
    X

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  8. Bonjour Barbara!

    My stepmother just recently mailed me a bunch of old family photos, so I decided to share a post using two of them.

    I agree....I can sit and look at old photos for HOURS. I can't remember who all the people are in these photos, but most of them I do. The woman sitting next to my grandfather is my grandmother. She was such a lovely lady (not at all like my father's mother) - HA! They lived in Chestnut Hill.

    Yes, I would imagine that most Italo-American families are tactile. Italians are all about expressing their senses and emotions. I am SO typically Italian.

    Thanks for dropping by for a little Italian family dinner, my Philly friend!

    Glad you enjoyed!

    Mangia!

    XOXOXOXO

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  9. P.S. Barbara...just noticed your second comment. Great, I'll be over to check them out sometime today. Can't wait!

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  10. Helloooooo Crystal Chick!

    OMG...I'm so excited to see ya!

    Did your daughter have the baby yet? Please keep me posted.

    I know that YOU of all my movie-loving friends have seen the movie Moonstruck - is it NOT THE BEST? I own it on video, so whenever I'm feeling real "Italiano" I pop it in and grab a glass of red wine.

    Knowing your personality, I think you would really enjoy sitting down with an Italian family and eating dinner. They're very passionate.

    Thanks so much for dropping by today, neighbor!

    Are you lovin' this awesome cool weather we're having? You know I am!!

    X

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  11. Lovely post! More so since I remember the movie Moonstruck

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  12. Italian dinners sound like fun! Everyone in the photos looks so happy. :)

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  13. Hi Possum!

    Welcome! Thank you for stopping by and sharing a comment.

    Nice to meet ya!

    Isn't Moonstruck perfectly Italian?

    It's one of favorite Cher movies!

    "Snap out of it!"

    HA!

    Please stop by anytime!

    Enjoy your evening!

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  14. Hi Akelamalu!

    That's because they were all drunk!

    HAHAHAHAHHA!

    Thank you for stopping by m'dear!

    Hope you had a great Wednesday!
    X

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  15. It's an awful lot like a French Canadian family...

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  16. Hi Anndi!

    Funny....I was JUST thinking about you and was going to stop by your place tonight!

    SEE!...we're Libra Twins!!!!

    Even our family dinners are the same!

    HA!

    Thanks for dropping by!

    I'll see ya in a bit!
    X

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  17. Fabulous pictures! One of my best friends is Italian and I get I invited to all the holidays and family events.

    You are so right! I just love the big family and the food and the wine and the laughter. A 2 year old's birthday party lasts 5 hours. It's fantastic.

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  18. Squeeeel!!!
    i love you! you just crack me up!
    The last time my kids grandfather was here, he was feeding my dogs from the table, and i leaned over and said to him" have you ever seen the movie Moonstruck?" he looked at me and said" no.."
    I smiled tightly and said " you feed another piece of my food to that dog old man, I'm gonna kick you till yer dead!"
    ~laughing~
    I'm sitting here listening to this on my computer in your honor ( and I do love Deano)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aS6-b7CONDI

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  19. Hiya Chrissy!

    A 2 year old's birthday party lasts 5 hours.

    HAHAHAHAHAHHAHA!

    SEE!...that's what I mean. Italians are PARTY animals.

    And don't you love how LOUD they are? I use to joke with my mother that one of my uncles (Uncle Joe) didn't even need a telephone to talk to you from the next town - all he had to do was TALK and you could hear him.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing in the Italian festival, my friend!

    I'm so happy to hear about your father!

    Love ya!
    X

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  20. Hello Lady Sorrow!

    " you feed another piece of my food to that dog old man, I'm gonna kick you till yer dead!"

    Bwhahahahhahahaha!

    Isn't that the BEST line in the movie??

    Sometimes I will actually rewind the film over and over again, just to hear her say it!

    The mother (played by Olympia) was my favorite character in the movie. I also loved the aunt and uncle.

    It truly is one of the best Italian family films ever made.

    Thank you SOOOOOOOOOOO much for leaving me the Youtube link. I will go over immediately and watch it!

    Love ya, dear lady!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

    {{{{{HUGS}}}}}

    Ciao bella!

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  21. Oh, Ron! What a beautiful, INSANE family you have! They're JUST LIKE MINE! I have a few comments though about the first photo...I hope you don't mind:
    The lady on the far right has a crush on the guy in the tux with his arm around his sweetheart. This merits further investigation. Did you overhear any conversations about anyone getting "whacked" during this meal?
    The lady on the far left is not a happy camper. Why is she not at the table? Was she asked to move to as not to have the back of her head in the shot? Or is she a server of the meal and just wants to finish up and get home, already?
    I'm also interested in the item over Grandpa's head. Is that an old fashioned light switch? The push-button on/off/order a hit button?
    Love seeing these fam photos Ron!
    xoxo

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  22. La bella Kathryn!

    Did you overhear any conversations about anyone getting "whacked" during this meal?

    Bwhahahahahahaha!

    OMG...I never even noticed that, but you are SOOOO RIGHT! That's exactly what it looks like - a WHACK job!

    Oh, how funny!

    Now, the woman on the far left was Elizabeth. She was the sweetest soul who lost her parents very young and came to live with our family. The only thing I can remember about her was that she LOVED puzzles. She could put a puzzle together faster than anybody I know! She was a puzzle genius! And I have no idea why she was not sitting at the table with everyone else - that's a good question.

    The light switch over my grandfathers head was the flip kind. I think it must have been for two separate lights.

    Honey, my family was TOTALLY INSANE. They were an A-typical Italian family. But OMG they were FUNNY!!

    Thanks for dropping by, my Italiano friend!

    Dove sono il libri!

    *means, Where are the books?

    Sorry, but that's the only Italian I remember from high school.

    Ciao baby!
    xoxoxo

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  23. I love this post, Ron! To be honest I don't have much of a relevant comment, because I can't really relate to the large and loud family scene. But I did really enjoy the imagery and I think I could handle myself in a situation like that.

    So there... I guess I *did* have a comment. ;o)

    Mostly I wanted to let you know that I have an award for you at my blog! :)

    Come on over and pick it up whenever you have some time. No rush.

    xxoo

    ~Penny

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  24. Ron,
    Your script gave me some fond memories of life growing up Italian. Our whole life centered around the dinner table. We would laugh, we would cry, we would sing, and we would yell usually all at the same time. My grandfather was the absolute ruler of the feast. He was the Exalted Leader of Macaroni. No one could eat until his fork was in his mouth and he looked up and said, "Thatsa nice, now we eat." It was as if he was the poision tester. What a brave man.
    Then came the 56 courses of meat, pasta, pasta, meat and then pasta and meat. The last course before the whole array of a pastry shop that was displayed was the tossed salad. Yep, the salad was suppose to settle the stomach after the experience of the medieval feast.
    Then the cannolies, jello pie, tarts, cookies that were made with the touch of an angel.
    One tradition that still holds on today is that no one eats until all is served and sitting at the table and I take the first bite. I have taken over the mantel. My son and his wife and their daughter have to wait. Hey, that is the way it goes and that is the way it continues. You don't like it too bad.
    Another thing, is that you do not wear a hat or a cap while you are at the table. No one needs that to eat. Another quirk is that when we eat all TV's are to be shut off. WE TALK, and we sing, and we laugh, and we argue, and we all love to be with each other.
    And the aroma of the food is bliss. I swear that smells of of Italian foods are and aphrodisiac. When ever I get a whiff of Sausage Peppers and Onions I get horny. I have made love to the smell of meatball lasgana coming in from the kitchen and just when the point of climax approaches I can hear the water bubbling and then it happens linguini al dente.

    Now I done it I am hungry and have to make sauce.

    Bona Sera.

    Quido

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  25. "Now, to an non-Italian this may seem like strange behavior. Got that right. I'm Irish/German and had a steady Italian boyfriend through most of high school. I was scared to death visiting his grandmother's house some Sundays for dinner. I never got used to the hugging and kissing and yelling and hugging and loudness and kissing and omg being so CLOSE to everyone!

    My family was the complete opposite of this. I had to put on my game face, give myself a pep talk, and remember that I should not think it odd if an Italian relative winds up in my lap.

    Loved the part about your grandfather taking the first sip of wine and nobody moving until then. I love tradition and family respect (just not all the hugging and kissing).

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  26. Hi Penny!

    I throughly enjoyed your comment, my friend!

    Hey...that's what's great about blogging - we can share stuff with others that we may not relate to but opens us to another world.

    If you're ever interested, please rent Moonstruck. It's throughly an enjoyable film that touches deeply on the FLAVOR of an Italian family. It's both funny and sweet.

    Thank you so much for the award! I'll stop by just as soon as I finish responding to comments.

    Hope you're having a great day!

    Thanks for stopping by!

    xoxxo

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  27. Hello my Italian Friend Dave!

    Ok, first of all I am SOOOO glad you stopped by for this post, because you have no idea how much I was thinking of you while writing this!!

    OMG, Dave....YOU CRACK ME UP!!!

    He was the Exalted Leader of Macaroni.

    HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA!

    Every single thing you shared in your comment I can SO TOTALLY relate to because that's how it was in my family.

    you do not wear a hat or a cap while you are at the table. No one needs that to eat. Another quirk is that when we eat all TV's are to be shut off.

    GOD FORBID if anyone wore a hat! It was like a sacrilege. And even to this day, all TV's are to be shut off!

    And the AROMA! OMG...I wish they could come up with an essential oil that smelled like ITALIAN - HA!

    And cannolis! They totally make me climax!

    Thank you SOOOOOOOO much for stopping by and adding your Italian flavor to this post, buddy!

    Bellissima!

    Bona Sera, Godfather!

    Ciao!

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  28. Helloooo Kathy!

    You are so FUNNY!

    You sound EXACTLY like my stepmother.

    I was scared to death visiting his grandmother's house some Sundays for dinner.

    I think for her, she was also not use to all the "hugging and kissing." She came from a much more reserved family, so it took her years to get use to it. She finally got to the point of just standing back; watching all the maddness and laughing.

    But I'll tell ya...she ended up being a primo Italian cook. She makes the best lasagna I've ever tasted.

    Thanks a bunch for stopping by and sharing on this post, Kathy!

    ALWAYS a pleasure seeing ya!

    Enjoy your day!

    Ciao bella!

    P.S. I'll leave you with a cyber Italian kiss and hug...

    {{{{{{ x Kathy x }}}}}}}

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  29. It sounds like a wonderful time. Now-a-days we hardly meet to eat. Everyone has such a busy schedule. It's nice to see how it should be done.

    Thanks for sharing. I loved it!
    Isabella

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  30. Hi Isabella!

    Now-a-days we hardly meet to eat.

    So TRUE!

    That's the thing I like most about the European way of living. I think they see "eating" as a time to connect with friends and family. Things are done much slower over there.

    I also spent some time living in Japan and everything thing with the Japanese is done with tradition and customs. Especially eating. And what I found to be interesting is that for as advanced as they are in technology, they know the importance of living a balanced life.

    Thank you for stopping by today, Isabella!

    It's always so nice seeing ya!

    Enjoy your evening!

    Ciao bella!
    X

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  31. Ron!

    You'll be proud to know (I know I am) that Connor (12) is taking Italian in 7th grade.

    SOOOOO, of course, I had to cover up your translation and ask him what "Dove sono il libri" means....he came back with Where's the library?.
    Not too bad, right??
    I'm Italian/Cuban on Dad's side and German on Mom's...you can imagine what our dinners were like, depending on which side of the fam you were dining with. The only words I remember in Italian were Grandpa yelling at us, so I'm thinking they're not repeatable!
    xoxo

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  32. Hiya Kathryn!

    BRAVO to Connor!!!!

    OMG...I took Italian in high school too, but that's the ONLY thing I remember how to say, can you believe it?

    oh...and also "Gula gagata!"

    Which means "Ass of the cat."

    hahahahahahaha!

    Thanks for stopping back by you little Italian/Cuba/German woman, you!

    Besitos!

    xoxoxo

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  33. The truth is, it's much comfortable to talk in the table while we are eating. It brings on the pleasure of eating as well emotions.

    Our family eats this way, though we are not Italians. :-)

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  34. Hi Walter!

    Welcome! Thank you for stopping by and sharing a comment.

    Nice to meet ya!

    It brings on the pleasure of eating as well emotions.

    Yes...exactly! And I think that's why Italians enjoy it so much. Somehow food and emotions go hand in hand.

    Maybe it brings out the flavor!?

    HA!

    Please stop by anytime. You're always welcome here!

    Enjoy your evening!

    Ciao!

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  35. being not italian nor married into an italian family but scandinavian [horrors], i have no idea and don't think i have ever been to one during a meal, especially a big one...it all sounds rather nice is a rather demented way though, loving in a very very forthright sort of way...beats that silent, mean-spirited very uptight atmosphere i grew up in where vomiting at the table became MY order of the day...

    anyway, i think you were blessed to have had this in your life and hope for you lots of those meals, perhaps on the more sedate side but only just a little... :)

    blessings and love to you..MWAH!

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  36. Helloooooo Dear Linda!

    it all sounds rather nice in a rather demented way though, loving in a very very forthright sort of way...

    That's it...you said it perfectly!

    My stepmother was raised more similar to you. No talking at the dinner table. For them, it was a time of complete quietness.

    Yes, for as insane as was at times, I feel very blessed to have had this in my life. I truly love being Italian!

    Bellissima!

    Thanks for dropping by, dear friend!

    Hope you're enjoying your weekend!

    {{{{{ xoxoxoxoxxoo }}}}}}

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  37. Italians and eating are synonymous.

    you are so right. one of my best girlfriends is italian and we talk about food and eating all the time. especially how much food her mom used to make when she was a kid. she has given me a few recipes and i enjoyed

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  38. Hi Valerie!

    Italians have a way of sharing the best of the best in recipes.

    My stepmother was never a big cook until she married my father. Now the woman can cook Italian food like it's nobody's business!

    My dad was also an incredible cook!

    Great seeing ya, Val!

    Ciao bella!

    X

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  39. Valerie was absolutely right when she said that you have a great sense of humor and always put a smile on her face. I not only had great fun reading this post, I had also learnt something about having dinner with Italian. If I do have any opportunity to dine with any Italian in the future, I will not have any culture shock. :)

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  40. Greetings BK!

    Welcome!

    Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to share a comment.

    Nice to meet you!

    Isn't Valerie the BOMB?

    I love that girl!

    So glad you liked the post. And listen, if you ever do get the chance to eat with some crazy Italians...make sure you don't eat anything two days before, because they'll feed you with enough food to last a WEEK!

    HA!

    Please stop by anytime. You're always welcome here!

    Ciao!

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