No hiding the fact that I am one of those rare breed . . .100% Italian. Added to that, I am from New York. Not Upstate, not the Island, but from good old Brooklyn. This is me. I don’t hide it or pretend I am from somewhere else. Those of you who share my background, understand my comments, my gestures and my attitude.
We meet in groups, not knowing each other and leave as friends. We immediately share what part of Italy our relatives come from, and where in New York we lived before moving to sunny Arizona. This must be ingrained in us, because we are a nationality who cares about where the other person hails from. Obviously people of other nationalities are not interested in their paesan’s background. (Paesan is Italian for good friend, countryman or Italian brother.)
We talk to each other about food and traditions, which, if you don’t know, is a very important part of who we are. Food is not a necessity for Italians, it’s a way of life; a lifestyle. I have never met a person who didn’t care for Italian food. Non-Italians always have their favorite lasagna recipe, their favorite pizza place and their favorite gelato flavor. Sorry, this really doesn’t make you a true paesan, but I know you are trying.
People have attempted to emulate our accents and gestures, but I can always tell an authentic New York-Italian from a want-a-be. It is that attitude that we were born with as soon as we exited the womb. This makes us unique and special. If you don’t understand it or are insulted by it, I’m sorry. No, not really. Tough it up and figure it out. Italians are good, true people who are honest, upfront and would do anything for a friend.
I met my Italian wife 47 years ago, and even today when I’m with her relatives I feel like I’m going through an interview. She’s from Brooklyn too! Massapequa – Ozone Park. Not sure if they’re the same or nearby, but New Yorkers seem to understand.
Art, thank you for commenting. Didn’t know your wife was from Brooklyn. Massapequa is on “the Island” and Ozone Park is in Queens, just another borough of NY. As you know, no matter what borough, we are all related.