"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tips From The Slower, Italian Life

Italy. Time to talk about it a little bit. The big thing I want to talk about is culture, the way Italians live day to day...although the food and sights and history were epic, of course...not in any way to detract from the gorgeousness of it all.

Italians do three big things differently than Americans which look to me like they would revolutionize family life and the mania of existence. I cannot stop thinking about these items and I'm still chewing on how to incorporate them into my life here and wondering how in the world they managed to create and maintain such a different standard for normal than we do.

They wash all dishes by hand. To make sure this happens, they don't own dishwashers. We AirBnb'd our way through the country and nowhere, at any stop was there a dishwasher but every single kitchen was equipped with a dish rack. I talked to a few Italians about this and they think dishwashers are wasteful since they take up space and use more energy than a sink of hot water and your own strong hands.

They hang out all laundry to dry. Another appliance that no Italian homes seemed to have was a dryer. I specifically rented places with a washer so that we could minimize our luggage and our spending by doing our own laundry as we went....not at one house was there a way to get the items dry quickly. They had lines or racks and maybe a big bucket of pins....but that was it. Get hanging. The most elegant sections of town have clotheslines at the windows.

They cook real food and eat it at tables. Always. That means no eating in cars on the way to practice or school, no dashing off to meet friends with a sandwich in your hand, no sipping a milkshake on the way out of work, no microwave in the kitchen and little consumption of packaged processed foods and a very high rate of cookery literacy. Nobody in Italy feels like eating real food that you made yourself is fancy. Its just normal. It took us a little while to figure out this rule and we made fools of ourselves a couple of times by snacking in public before we caught the drift. But now that I think about it....I'm smitten.

I can't help chuckling, envisioning American households trying to do without dryer, dishwasher, microwave AND snacking.....however similar this prescription is to my own anomalous upbringing. Most of our country is locked to these conveniences. What an interesting proposition it is to consider their elimination and think about what it would do to us. I think the big change would be a massive slowing down. You cannot run a life at top speed with no convenience cooking or on the run eating. You can't quickly run Junior's baseball uniform through in the short cycle and have it be of any use when all you have is a clothesline for step two. So much of the way we live is both facilitated by our convenience items and locks us into the trap. Italians also don't have every child enrolled in 4-6 different extra-curricular activities which eat up proper meal times and space for laundry sessions.

We are part of the way there on some of this stuff....intentionally slowing down and maybe even purposely hobbling ourselves so that we have excuses to stick to our slow living. We have four kids and no dishwasher and I had already been doing a bit to beat back the snacking obsession after reading Karen Le Billon's fresh, enlightening book about French food culture and parenting.

There is still room for improvement. I do have a big black microwave (that I am terribly bad at remembering to clean) that is squatting on my counter-top. I'm not sure I need it. I mean, I use it....but mostly for things like heating a mug of water for tea because we are too lazy to use the kettle that particular moment, cooking artichokes (because they take forever on the stove top) and melting butter for eating seafood. I'm not sure its bad to have one, per say....but I can see than they keep me on a fast track. I'm not sure that's good.

We are trying to cut back on our eating on the run. If you didn't get a chance to eat at the table...its worth considering if you could just wait until the next meal. Eating genuine meals shouldn't be rushed into eating in cars and while running down the sidewalk. We should just make time to eat together properly, even if it means not making it to our appointments sometimes. I think that's a good goal.

And now I come to the clothesline, coiled in my garage... I have space in my yard, a dry climate that's great for clothes hanging and a bunch of clothespins waiting to be used. Its time to hang a line at my house....the summer months could be great for hanging out our laundry and saving some electricity while utilizing those UV rays and freshening things up a little. Slowing down is possible.


1 comment:

  1. Europeans are clearly on to something by slowing down their pace...it's worth a second look! ❤️