by Melinda Gallo

Lunch with my boyfriend's parents

I had already been invited to pranzo (lunch) at Alessandro's parent's house, but today was the first time I was invited alone. I wasn't too worried about it because they are really nice to me. Since we have met, I have talked to his mother quite a bit and called her to thank her for sending me food and fresh uova (eggs) through Alessandro.

It was a fairly hot day today, but I decided to walk to their house, which is out near the stadio (stadium). It took me about half an hour and I had to call Alessandro twice to get directions because I wasn't sure where I was. He told me to take a short cut, but I wanted to go a longer way because I knew the street better. There was a point when I had to go through a sottopassaggio (underpass), which didn't make me feel comfortable since there wasn't anyone around at all. The city really empties itself out over the weekend in the summer when the weather is good especially in the more residential areas.

I arrived to their house a few minutes late and the water was already boiling. It made me think of times I've heard my friends call their parents and say, "Butta la pasta." (Throw the pasta into the boiling water.) They usually do that when they're about 10 minutes from home.

Instead of having pasta though, we ate a panettone salato (savory brioche) that was made up of different layers of sandwiches. His mother asked me if I wanted pasta or this panettone salato. She seemed eager to try the panettone salato that was given to her, so I said it would be nice to try too. His father and I weren't as enthusiastic after we ate a few bites. He would've preferred pasta, and honestly I think I would have too.

I was seated in a place where I wasn't able to get up, so his mother had to clear the table and put the food on the table. I tried to help, but she kept telling me to sit down. His mother made arista di maiale (pork roast), patatine fritte (french fries), and fresh fagioli verdi (green beans), which was all delicious. They had wine with their meal, but I stuck to water.

Before dessert, we had some fresh fruit that we washed in a bowl of water that was set on the table. His mom made tiramisł with half mascarpone and half yogurt. I was surprised that it tasted so good because I'm not a fan of making desserts less rich.

Alessandro's dad asked me a few questions during our meal. His first question was, "Mangi la pasta a casa come contorno o come primo?" (Do you eat pasta as a side dish or a first course at home?" At first when he said, "a casa" I thought he meant back in the US as so many people mean when they talk to me about casa, but he meant at my house here in Florence. I told him that because I eat out a lot and I adapt well to my surroundings, I eat the pasta as a first course, then meat and at least one contorno. But, I did explain that if I have Chinese food, I eat rice with my main dish. He asked me, "E quando mangi l'insalata?" (And when do you eat salad?) I told him that I eat it at the end of my meal as the Italians do.

The first time I met Alessandro's father and told him that I've been living in Florence for a total of four and a half years, he said, "Sei una fiorentina ora." (You're a Florentine now.) And I added, "Di adozione." (By adoption.)

He asked me if I can get cittadinanza italiana (Italian citizenship), and I had to bore him with my long story about that. Although I did read somewhere that I might possibly be able to get it if I'm a resident in Italy for 3 consecutive years even if my grandfather became an American before my dad was born. One more thing I need to investigate.

I asked them both a lot of questions about food as I know the father isn't open to eating different things. I want to take them to Simone's restaurant for sushi, but if we do, I'll have to ask Simone to make something Italian as a backup for Alessandro's father. His mother seems like she's eager to try it, so I think we should.

Alessandro came home for lunch while we were eating the tiramisł. I ate a second helping to keep him company, and because it mi faceva gola (tempted me).

It was nice spending time with Alessandro's parent even without him being there. It felt quite natural to be with them as they are easy to get along with. I'll probably call his mom tomorrow to thank her again for the pranzo. I hope they enjoyed it with me as well.

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