american

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SATURDAY DINING OUT

Published April 10, 2013 by Tony

SATURDAY NIGHT IN NAPLES and NEW YORK

Standard of living and lifestyle have influenced and still influence the way how people spend their weekend. If we take as a reference two medium families, one from Naples and another from New York, both formed by working parents, with one or more adult children, probably in a month the Neapolitan parents spend one Saturday or Sunday to dine out, while the New Yorker parents spend three. For New Yorkers the Saturday “evening dining out” was, until recently, an obligation, especially for couples with both engaged in work. Due to the popular demand, in order to go to a restaurant or pizzeria in New York, a Saturday evening reservation even was necessary. Where the New Yorker didn’t go out to dinner, as an alternative there always was a dinner party hosted by some friends at their home or in a pub. A lifestyle difficult to eradicate, even in view of the fact that wives were not inclined to spend weekend at home, between cooking and dishes.
Aside from this substantial cultural difference, there was another of economic nature, because an average Neapolitan family certainly did not have the same economic opportunity of the overseas peers.
Although a normal dinner in a normal restaurant in the Neapolitan hinterland costs less than the one in a similar restaurant in New York, the average Neapolitan family culturally is more “conservative” and traditionalist, with wives, who, although involved in work, have not lost their  “housewives” identity, preferring to stay at home during the weekend.  In Naples, there has never been a “dining party” culture, and instead of Saturday dining out, if anything, the custom of a Sunday lunch away from home has always been more in vogue. But occasionally and not as a weekly habit. The Neapolitan wife has always been very attached to the house and the children and  weekend is just a chance to spend more time at home with family, and attend to all those household chores that she has not been able to do during the week.
Our habits have not changed much over the years. The economic situation has led, if anything, to renounce to some Sunday lunch at the restaurant and be thriftier in foodstuffs purchase.

Americans, instead, after a hard week spent at work, look forward to weekends, planning in advance for them.  For many weekend means going out with friends or relatives, outdoor activities or watching a game in a stadium.
In the past, one of the largest changes in American eating habits was the increasing reliance on food eaten away from home (FAFH). FAFH increased from 33% of total food expenditures in 1970 to 47% by 2003. Most of this is at table service and fast food restaurants.
Much of the growth is attributed to the rising value of household time, especially as induced by more female labor force participation, and rising household incomes.
As a 2009 Zagat Survey showed, eating out was a way of life for many Americans, with 50% of all meals prepared outside the home. In short, restaurants became the family kitchen for the busy two-career families. According to Zagat Survey CEO Tim Zagat, “Americans are still eating out in restaurants, they are just making smarter choices.”

Recently, the economic downturn, occasional jobs and financial turmoil in America have made it difficult for people to find enough money to afford their “dining out” habit.
Lately, Americans are making family dinner more often than dine out, a trend that slowly took root before the recession. Mostly, they’re cooking with and eating a narrow range of foods — and relying, to some extent, on prepared, frozen, and canned items to feed their families quickly and economically. “It’s very boring. That’s the sad truth,” says Harry Balzer, chief food industry analyst for the NPD Group, a national market research company. “For the most part, we’re looking for what’s the eaesiest way out of this, what’s the cheapest way out of this.” Balzer said, the number of restaurant meals an American family eats — dine-in or takeout — has been flat, at just under 200 a year, correlating to plateaus of both women in the workforce and household incomes.

Even the New York Times supported the thesis of the “end of the dinner party” because people do not have more money, time and wish to do so.  Someone else says that beyond the crisis there is a lack of good manners and savoir faire, with people no longer able to have a conversation and that’s why lately “finger food” and “standing up” are preferred to dinner party.

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GAY & SUPREME COURT POSITION

Published March 28, 2013 by Tony

SUPREME COURT WILL NOT EXPRESS
AMERICAN HYPOCRITICAL BEHAVIOR

Why won’t Supreme Court express and will seek to distance itself, through some crazing  to avoid  making a decision on gay marriage?
Unluckily, the answer is easy but leaves bewildered.
Well, the Supreme Court will not decide because doesn’t want to “jump the gun”, does not want to take responsibility for making a decision which might regret in the future.
But, how?
In the world, the U.S. have always positioned itself, politically and socially, as a reference point, a model in step with times, and a liberal example to follow and appreciate…. and now?
Other nations have already clearly sided with this topic and we do not understand why so much hesitation and fear, especially on the part of the Supreme Court, which represents America anyway.
For them it is too early! Too soon for what?
What could happen in the future that may bring them to regret their approval on gay marriage?
Gosh! A lot of people do not expect this anachronistic and cowardly behavior from the most important and advanced nation in the world.
This behavior, kinda predictably, does nothing but stokes even more the reputation according which American people are hypocritical.
To wit, I do but do not admit it!
Obviously, in America there are a lot of gays, many of which still covertly, but also many people who like promiscuity or at least a sort of “sexual freedom” – and no one criticizes them for this, indeed! – but nobody has the courage to confess it and worse do not support even any law in favor of gay.
A non-sense somewhat disconcerting.

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KINDER SURPRISE

Published March 19, 2013 by Tony

KINDER SURPRISE EGGS
Vs.
CHOCO TREASURE

“Kinder Surprise” egg is a delicious chocolate, white in the inner side, filled with a plastic container in which kids find a toy (the surprise).
This innovative candy, very famous in Italy and in Europe, was created and from long manufactured by the Italian company called Ferrero, from the city of Ferrara, company famous throughout the world for its delightful Nutella.

Millions of children have eaten and enjoyed these eggs that Ferrero at Easter also offers in larger sizes and with surprises even more inviting.
Such a tasty and fascinating item could not go unnoticed in other countries, but unfortunately in the U.S. it is considered illegal.

kinder surprise eggsAs Ferrero states, his kinder surprise egg is not suitable for children under three years of age and this is a big deal in the U.S. because this type of product is in violation of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requirement, which states that candy-with-ensconced-toys must be safe for kids of all ages.
Anyhow, this hasn’t stopped people from trying to smuggle them in. According to Canada’s National Post, more than 60,000 Kinder eggs have been seized at the U.S. border annually though penalties can rise up to $2,500 per egg. It is said that a Winnipeg woman nearly paid a $300 fine when she tried to cross the Canadian-U.S. border with one Kinder Surprise egg or the highly creative man who used one to propose to his girlfriend.
Besides, nothing has deterred a New Jersey businessman, who loving them so much and wanting to make sure future generations of American children could enjoy them as much as overseas others kidsChoco treasure do, has meantime tried to figure out a way to legalize the contraband.
He is Kevin Gass, the co-founder of Candy Treasure LLC, a Lebanon, N.J., who about a week ago has proposed his Choco Treasure, a Kinder-inspired chocolate egg with a toy inside.
This is the biggest kid’s candy in the world, and we think it tastes great. It’s fun, and we spent quite a bit of time to make it safer and also as much fun as the original,” Gass told ABC News, adding that he worked with the FDA and a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission certified lab to make sure the product was safe for children of all ages.
The strange thing, this egg is similar and structurally identical to Ferrero’s one, with a capsule submerged inside which separates the two halves of chocolate, and it becomes difficult to understand why it is now considered “safe” while the original, the Kinder Surprise egg, it is not.
Why?
Maybe because Ferrero is an Italian brand and Candy Treasure LLC American?
Business’s mystery…… or just an unfair competition?
I feel sorry for American children, but at least I am consoled by the fact that, according to the images, chocolate Choco seems to be different from Kinder’s one. Toys aside, this suggests that the taste will then be different, savor that made Kinder famous worldwide.
Same thing already seen for Nutella‘s chocolate, imitated by many firms but none as tasty and unique as the original.

Ferrero Kinder suprise egg

uova-di-pasqua-kinder

nutella

ingredients

TRATTORIA NEAPOLIS

Published February 25, 2013 by Tony

NEAPOLITAN PIZZA?

Today I read a news on a local newspaper that struck me for its originality.
It is well-known that Naples is the land of pizza and every tourist, coming from anywhere,  has always praised the  “Made in Naplespizza, stating that it is different from the one eaten in their country. As I have said before, in other countries the difference is not so much in the ingredients (mozzarella, tomatoes, olive oil), which now are also easy to find in any well-stocked supermarket, but mainly in the preparation of the dough, where the type yeast, flour, and even water, affect the quality of the dough. Finally, the type of cooking also has its own importance, where  to be a true “Neapolitan pizza” must be baked in wood-fired ovens and directly on the baking stone.
The article in question says that a well-known restaurant in Pasadena, CA, to cook their pizzas, make use of a traditional wood burning oven bought and imported directly by Naples, thing which gave the opportunity, about the cooking at least, to get a Neapolitan-like pizza. This Californian pizzeria is called “Trattoria Neapolis” and advertises a menu where many dishes have ingredients typically used here in Naples.
Having never eaten at this restaurant, I cannot judge if the pizza is really similar
to our pizza, but consoled by the fact that it is at least cooked the way that has to be.

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FOOD CULTURE

Published February 11, 2012 by Tony

Pasta with beans or Hot dog?
Italian & American eating habits

It’s told, “when in Rome do as the Romans do”, meaning that any country gets its own customs.
About this, one of the differences between Italians and Americans is the approach of eating. I am not referring mainly to menu, but the way we deal with the three daily meals, that we usually differentiate into breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Starting with breakfast, for Italians it is not considered a true meal, in the sense that most of us undervalue it. For us, early in the morning, the breakfast is something to do quickly before going out, often reducing itself to a simple coffee or in the best cases to a cappuccino with biscuits. Others prefer to have it even when already in the street or at work, going to a bar and eating a croissant with a cappuccino or coffee, while some prefer tea. I believe no Italian in the early morning would like to eat ham and eggs, omelets or bacon and potatoes, then watered down with fruit or tomato juice or cold milk from the fridge. Thus, the first difference lies in this: you Americans are accustomed to spend some time in the morning for a breakfast rich in calories, while we Italians often run away at work while sipping a coffee. The opposite, however, happens at lunchtime. For most Italians lunch and dinner are considered “sacred” and, work permitting, anyone likes to have it at home together family, dedicating it the right time. For us a traditional meal consists of a first course with pasta, then meat or fish with a side dish, wine or water. Those who do not have the opportunity to eat at home, whereas possible, sit in a hash-house or pizzeria and eat with calm a first course or a pizza. Instead, I know that most of you Americans have not such a lunch and often a quickly one in a cafeteria, because you just give not the same value to the lunch as we do.
Finally we arrive at dinnertime.
This is the time when any Italian family joins together, especially when parents have not met at lunchtime. It’s time to chat and watch TV together. In general, the traditional Italian dinner is composed of a main course with vegetables or meat, or something lighter than traditional lunch. On holidays and Sundays it’s different, anyway.
Overall, we do not have the culture of fast-food, as hot dogs, hamburgers or sandwiches which only in recent times spread to Italy by the opening of McDonald’s points in any city. Our food culture, which is mostly derived from ancient rural traditions, is based on meals made with vegetables and local products if not homemade even, whereas the family gathered around the table to eat and be together, while only on Sundays or holidays people ate more with some dish more elaborated. Our traditional lunch made with a simple panino (bread roll) or bread’s slices stuffed with something inside, comes with the need for some workers, such as hard-hats, who could not return home or not having enough time, with parents or wives that in the morning prepared them a panino filled with some left-overs to take away. Even though it has then become commonplace among other workers or students, who have replaced the filling with tasty variations, as it’s a panino with ham and mozarella or with tuna-in-olive-oil and cherry-tomatoes.

panino with tuna

Americans loving Italy

Published October 26, 2011 by Tony

Leonardo Di Caprio’s mozzarella

Di caprio's mozzarella

I think it’s not a secret that famous American people love Italy and apart those with Italian descends, many of them even decided to buy a home in the Belpaese. I know that George Clooney goes and comes from Italy, while there is some reference to Brad Pitt’s having bought his own villa in a town not far from Clooney’s place. Woody Allen filmed movies in Venice, had films debut at the Venice Film Festival, married Soon-Yi in Venice, and he also helped raise money to rebuild the opera house “La Fenice”, so it seems he likes the city quite a bit. Debi Mazar has a home in Tuscany and split her time between there and Los Angeles.

But, I was astonished when read a short news about Leonardo Di Caprio who after the purchase of a luxury apartment in Verona, came in my city because is daft about buffalo mozzarella. According to his entourage, the beauty of Titanic would be interested to start an in-house production of mozzarella, which is extremely fond. The Hollywood star is serious, and began to investigate the Campania region, in particular the area of ​​Caserta and Salerno, to find a dairy farm to manage.

After the wine and oil, and with the food market by now inflated, no one expected that a VIP would go countertrend.

The voice of Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall chose to take his second career as a winemaker managing some vineyard down the Etna’s slopes.

Olive oil and honey are, instead, the products on which Sting’s family aimed to bring in their residence in Tuscany.

Gerard Depardieu and Carole Bouquet for a few years, have become exceptional farmers in Pantelleria, among zibibbo and raisin.

Probably, in the future you also will be surprised to find in America, on a supermarket shelf, a mozzarella packaging with the name “Di Caprio” printed on, also if it will be identical to the mozzarella we Neapolitans usually eat every day.

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