Books for Italian Dummies #3

America with Oriana Fallaci I

The Seven Sins of Hollywood preface by Orson Welles (I sette peccati di Hollywood, Milano, Longanesi, 1958).

As a young journalist in a sexist Country, Oriana Fallaci was forced to write about “women stuff” such as fashion and show business reporter. But suddenly she become a personality, her interviews to Holliwood stars become much more than gossip. I sette peccati di Hollywood, ‘The Seven Sins of Hollywood’, is the result of Fallaci’s journalistic writing activiti in the 50s. It is not a book on the United States, it’s about Hollywood, but the narration of Hollywood fabulous lives comes with a several snapshots of American life in the 50s.

After the prelude on Marylin Monroe’s myth, the first chapter provides a disenchanted portrayal of Hollywood stars, in a typical Fallaci style. The first picture shows American roads, and the complicated relationship between Americans and their cars. Terms and concepts like freeway, 100 km/h, drive through, were science fiction for 1950s Italy, but Fallaci’s observations are extremely accurate, she is able to identify cultural differences and social categories that are still there now, 50 years later. Chapter two tells about cemetery lots for sale, garden-like cemeteries, grave lots like parking lots, or apartments for Eternity, celebrites’ names written in concrete like the names of deceased on headstones. “This mania to turn life and dead in a show”. Fallaci’s writing keeps you glued to the page, if you want to learn more on America through Italian eyes, this will be an interesting reading.

L’America spiegata agli Italiani. In libri #3

In America con Oriana Fallaci I

I sette peccati di Hollywood, Milano, Longanesi, 1958

L’argomento è lo stesso che era stato affidata alla giovane Fallaci: spettacoli. Interviste a persone famose. Ma il suo stile e la sua forza erano già tali che le sue interviste sono subito diventate un libro. Non sull’America, su Hollywood. Ma corredato di una serie di interessanti scorci d’America. Dopo il preludio sulla sua caccia all’icona per eccellenza, Marylin Monroe, il primo capitolo si apre con una visione più che disincantata dei divi, in pieno stile Fallaci. Il primo quadretto è quello sulle strade americane e sul rapporto che gli americani hanno con le loro automobili. Concetti come freeway, 100 km/h, drive through erano per l’Italia del tempo pura fantascienza; ma molte delle osservazioni di Fallaci e delle differenze culturali che nota, sono ancora perfettamente valide. Il secondo ritrae vendite di lotti nel cimitero, posti-tomba, cimiteri come giardini, i nomi dei divi sull’asfalto come quelli dei defunti sulle lapidi, “la mania di trasformare vita e morte in uno spettacolo”. La scrittura di Fallaci ti tiene incollato alla pagina quindi non sarà spiacevole fare questa piccola caccia al tesoro attraverso Hollywood.

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America for (Italian) Dummies #28

What’s more authentically American than a barbecue?

Yes, we have barbecue too, we call it grigliata (I wrote about them here: https://misshome.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/316-i-miss-grigliate-1/ and here: https://misshome.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/319-i-miss-grigliate-2/ ) but the American one has its charm

We normally have just an old grill or, for the wildest version, a stone (pietra ollare), but the Americans have super-cool BBq Grills

The menu is Italy is quite minimal: steaks, ribs, sausages, chicken, but in the US there are also burgers, hotdogs, beans, salads,

and tons of sauces, that in Italy are not very common

and then the mini fridge full of sodas and beers, the big pitchers full of iced tea and lemonade

We are better at pasta, but you guys are great with BBQ, and your Italian friends will acknowledge that.

Ah the taste of the American Dream!

L’America spiegata agli Italiani #28

E’ da poco passato il Memorial Day che di solito apre la stagione dei barbecue.

E cosa c’è di più autenticamente americano di un BBQ (a loro piacciono un sacco le abbreviazioni e gli acronimi) dietro casa?

Sì, d’accordo, le grigliate si fanno anche da noi (ne ho scritto qui https://misshome.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/316-i-miss-grigliate-1 e qui https://misshome.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/319-i-miss-grigliate-2/ ), ma il BBQ americano è davvero un’altra cosa. Noi abbiamo la buona vecchia griglia o la pietra ollare (che comunque sanno il fatto loro), ma loro hanno dei barbecue fichissimi

Il menu prevede salsicce, wurstel, burger, pollo, ribs (costolette), accompagnati da cole slaw (insalata di verza), insalata di patate, pannocchie…

accompagnate dalle varie salse.

poi birre per gli adulti, grandi caraffe di limonata e iced tea

Una tradizione ancora in voga prevede una netta divisione dei compiti in base al ruolo di genere: la griglia è cosa da maschi (più o meno alpha) le femmine preparano caraffe di margaritas.

America for (Italian) Dummies #27

Mall, short for Shopping Mall

the main hangout for American teenagers according to any tv series or movie (the main source of information on American culture for any Italian)

Here American adolescents sit with their friends, get informed about latest gossips and trends, meet their boy friends and girlfriends.

They have lunch or dinner at the food court

where they can pick one among at least five fast food, and then have an icecream or milkshake

or go to the cinema

That’s what they do since the 1950s

When in Italy all that teenagers could do was having a gelato in the gelateria around the corner, strolling in the park or in the city center, looking clothes and shoes they could not afford in the shop windows.

Concepts like food court, or milkshake are not really part of our vocabulary; malls themselves, even though quite common nowadays, are still something quite new in Italy. And something very different. Mostly a place in which families do the grocery once a month spending a few hours together, or where old ladies spend an afternoon taking advantages of the air conditioning.

(More on Italian “malls” here: https://misshome.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/266-i-miss-italian-shopping-malls/ )