That would be me, Mrs. Moglie. Married to a native Italian, Mr. Marito.
Mother to a daughter in high school, Ms. SmartyPants and a son in middle school, Mr. Uometto.
Employed at a private British School as an English teacher and Coordinator of Children's Studies.
Part of a small, but growing Protestant church in Frascati, a small town in the hills just outside of Rome.

This is where I sometimes gripe, complain and grumble about the things I dislike, have yet to get used to or simply don't understand about bella Italia.
I do, however, have many people, places and things that I dearly love and I am more than aware of being blessed by each and every one of them.
Also - a few helpful posts for visitors to Rome or for newly arrived ex pats. Check the side bar for tags. I've even some recipes that I've borrowed, tweaked or invented. One thing I've come to love about Italy is how it's changed the way I eat - slow food !! Although ... I do miss Taco Bell ... and Jack in The Box ... and KFC ... and ::sigh::
Thanks for stopping by !!

Monday, October 18, 2010

What Began as a Short Story on Green Onions Has Turned into Another Long Drawn Out Blog About the Trauma of Living in Rome

*Be forewarned: You will encounter spelling, syntax and grammatical errors, long winded run on sentences, overuse of (parentheses), abuse of hy-phens, off-topic side tracking and all manner of doesn't-make-sense. 

After the fun touristy visits, after the novelty of adventurous days of sight-seeing and pleasant evenings dining at various pizzerias... when Rome was no longer a foreign city, but my home, I began to realize that I was missing many familiar comforts and conveniences I had become accustomed to in the US. In particular, I missed certain foods. 

 I do most of my shopping at the local market. I really love the market !! The prices are good, the produce and meat are always fresh and of optimum quality and I can purchase daily household products as well.

One stop shopping ^__^  y a y ! 

Another aspect of the market that I've come to appreciate is the service. Perhaps it's because Rome is a big bustling city, perhaps in other, smaller towns customer service is a top priority, perhaps I have unrealistically high expectations. I don't know. What I do know is that my experience with daily errands here in Rome (the market not included) is something that I never expected. That's not to say all my experiences have been bad. Let me be clear. They're just different. So different, in fact, that my raised-in-a-little-town-somewhere-in-California  mind just never thought or would have ever imagined certain possibilities. 

Take supermarkets, for example. If they're brand new, they're fairly clean and orderly. If they've been in business for more than a few months, they're rather dusty and disorderly and sometimes, they're downright dirty. If you've been raised in the States, like I have, where 3's a crowd, customer service departments, baggers who help you to your car and self serve check out lines are the norm, you would never imagine that these things, or variations of these things didn't exist. Well, self serve check out does exist here, now, but only in a select few sporting goods and DIY mega-stores. 

I realize that some things have changed (only slightly) since first coming to Italy and different regions have different customs, but all in all, supermarkets have remained much the same. They tend to have small aisles. So small, in fact, that two smaller than average (American) carts can just barely squeeze by each other. Product variety is scarce - apart from a few common items like cold cuts and cheeses, most items will have 1, 2, at most and rarely 3 brand name varieties and then a store generic version. Like cereal. I've been here over ten years and I know that most children eat cereal for breakfast or for merenda (snack) yet we still only have Kellogg's (corn flakes) and Nestlè (cheerios, nesquick and a few others) plus some store variations.

Customer Service in supermarkets. Ha! Don't get your hopes up. Employees who are on shift to stock merchandise are rarely seen actually stocking merchandise but rather talking amongst themselves while the product you need sits encased in cardboard and plastic on a crate in the middle of the aisle. Should you require their assistance, they seem to do all that is possible to test your patience and sanity. 
Happy, smiley person that you are, "Hi! Excuse me, where can I find the sugar?
Raises chin in one direction, eyes droopy and looking in another direction, "Over there."
"Oh ... um ... over there?" you ask, unsure of her point of reference, you point first in the one direction and then move your hand slowly towards the other direction.
"Mmm-mmm," she replies without having even looked to see where you are pointing.
"So ... uh ... would that be aisle 5? Or aisle 12?" you manage to ask with complete sincerity.
She lifts her head, pauses, sucks at her cheek, raises her eyebrows, blinks slowly, but often and then repeats her chin-in-one-direction-eyes-in-another gesture and says, "You see that aisle over there?" Sure, she's not even looking at you, but on a leap of faith, you carefully gauge the direction based on the position of her chin. "It's over there." And with that, she turns to leave.
"Uh, no ... sorry ... wait ... which aisle?" She's still walking away and you realize that she has no intention of stopping so you move in front of her, blocking her from leaving, "Sorry ... excuse me, but can you just tell me the aisle number? Or tell me what kind of product it's near? Or could you walk over there and I'll just, you know, follow you?"
Without a word, without even a sign of acknowledgement, she starts walking away and you wonder if she's ignoring you. Or wait, maybe, just maybe, she's leading you to the sugar. You take your chances and follow. Meanwhile, another customer approaches the clerk with a similar query and she replies in the same manner, "Over there." The customer tilts his head back, scans the aisles in one direction and then another and moves on. You're kidding me, right? Was he able to locate it that quickly?! Really? And if not, where is he going and why doesn't he insist on more clear directions?! I am confused
We wind our way through small cramped aisles, dodging carts, products which have fallen to the floor, small children ... finally, she stops and so, I stop too. Since I'm a few steps behind her, I wonder if I should just walk away nonchalantly - no, no, I wasn't following you. I sure wasn't thinking you were leading me to the sugar pshaw! I just happened to be walking this way, is all - but, hmmm, she seems to be waiting for me. Is she wai--Yes, she's waiting for me! I take a few steps toward her and when I've just about reached her, she turns her head, chin pressed against her shoulder, droopy eyes looking down at my feet and then ... she sucks her teeth. squeetch! And then she walks away. What? Wait! What does that mean? Did it mean something? I look right, left, up, down and yes! I see the sugar. *cue Hallelujah soundtrack

Apparently, that squeetch! was supermarket lingo for, "Here you are ma'am. I've brought you to the sugar. If I can assist you in any other way, you just let me know. Have a nice day, now." Naturally, in Italy, sugar is located at the end of an aisle (not in the aisle on shelves, but at the end of the aisle), still in its warehouse-ready-to-ship-to-a-store-near-you packaging in open cardboard boxes wound with clear cellophane, next to the eggs. Of course. What was I thinking?

On the Bright Side

°this kind of experience, while not altogether rare, happens infrequently enough that I am able to go to the supermarket without fear and dread
°through (far too) many situations similar to this one, I was able to accelerate the process of learning to speak and articulate in Italian, as well as increasing my comprehension skills
°I found the sugar

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