when direct translations can fail you.
so i went to a bbq on saturday and mingled with other slow food folk and foisted my “l’insalata di patate sorpresa” — Surprise Potato Salad — upon the others. surprise, because it had half of a giant jalapeno minced into it, along with some sriracha and a red thai curry paste that already packs some heat. italians (at least these ones up north) aren’t particularly used to spicy eating, so watching these guys fan their mouths frantically amused me in a decidedly sadistic way. also on the menu: pan-fried chicken, tomato salad (with green beans and mint), a giant chunk of coppa salami, and la pice de resistance: hamburgers (in italiano: am-BOOR-gur). oh, and some amazing blueberry-lemon cake.

i was trying my best to use italian and was managing perfunctorily, when i noticed my chance to incorporate new! fancy! vocabulary: olivia, who generally seems to approach tasks in a systematic manner, was tackling the assembly of little bug-repellant smoking coils. we had only 1 little mount thingie, but there were 10 coils. she had devised a clever little solution (drilling holes with a knife and inserting matches as supports), and i said, “wow, sei tanto fastidiosa,” meaning merriam-webster’s definition, “b : showing or demanding excessive delicacy or care c : reflecting a meticulous, sensitive, or demanding attitude ,” and not“annoying, tiresome, or irritating,” as it means in italian (and can sort of mean in english too). i basically said to olivia, “gee, you’re really annoying.” oops.

my current tack for expanding vocabulary: i’ve been riffling through the dictionary, picking out a few words and trying to incorporate them. my favorite so far: smidollato, which means “spineless.” i’m really on my way to making more friends, huh?


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