What is to be an Italian mama


Among maternal figures the Italian mama often ranks high. In February 2012  the Wall Street Journal columnist Joe Queenan writes that in the recent hubbub over weather the strict Chinese mothers are better than the Mongolian single mothers or the relaxed matriarchs from the Fiji Islands, Italian mothers do not even need to enter this competition as they are rightfully entitled to get on the podium for their excellent culinary skills. However this stereotypisation of the Italian woman as a cook-waitress, caring mama and inferior figure at the service of the alpha man of the house was considered in Laura Borini’s last week talk an important element to understand the many recent episodes of femecide in Italy…

Whatever, I am done with trying to be clever; I think that Mr Queenan had a point but omitted many other reasons why Italian moms are great, feminism is not reactionary and our President of the Chamber of Deputies Laura Boldrini is trying too hard to prove she is an emancipate woman. I know I know I know that the Italian-mamaness can be considered an old anthropological model, a further generalisation of the Italian women, an anachronistic and fascist way which imposes women to stay at home baking kids and cakes. But you know what? I DO NOT GIVE A GLITTERING FUCK. This is the kind of mama I had, this is the kind of mama I want to talk about and this is the kind of mama I want to be. Oh yes, I want to force-feed my kids with love, bath them in olive oil and wrap their baby bums in mortadella and prosciutto slices. Cause food at mine is not about physical sustenance, it is a proper unspoken language with which mama have transmitted me her love, anger and rules. For example today after 2 hours at the gym I went home where I found for lunch boiled rice with olive oil: I knew while I was devouring that delicious flavourless dish that mom was mad at me. After lunch I went into my room, or what remained of  it, and discovered that numerous pieces of garments including bags had been literally thrown on my bed forming a pile of tangible rage. So I fixed the problem: I tidied up my room, made myself and my mum an espresso and engaged in a random conversation about X-Factor and you know what? At around 4.00pm she had already made bread, at 5.00pm she asked me what I’d preferred for dinner and at 6.00pm she baked cookies.

By saying that Italian mums are great ONLY because they cook amazeball food don’t do them justice. An Italian mom prepares a meal not to feed her family but in order to spend time with it, she takes care of the health of her kids by buying seasonal fruit and veggie, she teaches them lessons by making (or not) an effort in preparing meals and she hands down traditions by creating family events around food. I do not have a particularly great relationship with my mother but I know that she is happy to see me if she cooks me my favourite food, she is fuming at me if she cooks me rice, she feels good if she makes pizza for all the members of the family and she feels lonely when she eats cheese on bread as there is none to cook for. Of course Italian mamas have many many many flaws: their sense of protection brings up forever-teenager-adults, their effort in creating a reassuring environment around kids encourages them to stay at home till they are decrepit and  their compassionate lack of strictness brings them up with no idea that in the real world it is important to respect rules, times and people. Nevertheless, there is nothing that can’t be solved over mum’s lasagne or grandmum’ wild boar pasta sauce!


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