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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Things I Have Noticed About Italy Part 5

Yes I am still in awe of the all the differences between Italy and the United States. Many things catch my attention and these are my newest observations.

1. Uncut Dogs
My poor dog is the only dog I’ve seen in the past 6 months who is neutered. Sometimes people look at his rear end to figure out if he is a male or a female. They often ask me “maschio” or “femmina” because they believe males will fight when put together. My dog may be missing his b*lls, but he still thinks he’s a miniature Great Dane.

2. Kids suck on pacifiers until 3, 4 and even 5 years old
Enough said! I find this weird, Chinese folks don’t’ use pacifiers and Americans usually get rid of the pacifier when the child is weaned about 1-2 years old. Here it’s almost obscene.

3. Baby Scales
Italians love babies. They may not be having very many of them but I think that is what makes them so precious. This past weekend we strolled around downtown and waltzed into a high-end electronics store. Nestled among the CD players, computers, hi-fi’s and big screen TV’s, were little scales to weigh babies. This type of scale seems a bit useless since after the infant starts to move around, 3-4 months, the scales’ numbers would seem to fluctuate and not be accurate. I have never seen this in the U.S.; it surprised me and gave me a giggle at the same time.

4. Hair removal products
In the store mentioned above there were machines and machines and machines, in fact a whole case full of depilating devices. Little apparatus for pulling, shaving, trimming and waxing hair off various parts of the human body. I think everyone associates southern Italians with hairiness… Men with hair all over their backs like fur coats, women with fuzzy moustaches (for a great example check out the movie, Divorce Italian Style) but in fact I have been told Sicily is full of blondes. There are however no shortage of women in Torino with moustaches and little beards. I guess it’s a countrywide phenomenon.

5. No squirrels
The furry, fat, grey American squirrel has not made it across the Atlantic Ocean. Here the only animals that pester you in public parks are deformed and decrepit pigeons. On terrace rooftops, the pests are magpies and really evil looking crows.

6. Turkish toilets
I have not seen these toilets aka stinky holes in the ground since I went to Thailand. These types of toilets, the ones you swat over, remind me of Asia but they are also common here in Italy. About 40-50% of bars and restaurants here have these types of toilets. After I figure this out, I try my hardest to avoid them. I would much rather pay the 50 cents it costs to used a public water closet with seat protectors and toilet paper.

7. Eggs are not refrigerated
This seems like a USDA “no-no” but we aren’t in Kansas anymore are we? I was taught/learned/indoctrinated that eggs must be refrigerated at all costs. Is salmonella non-existent in Italy? I have no idea but the grocery stores here have eggs on shelves just like boxes of cereal.


At 4:43 PM, Blogger Sara said...

Regarding eggs: I have a theory. In the United States, the USDA requires all eggs to be washed prior to being put out on shelves. This washing removes a waxy protective coating that is naturally on the egg. This is why, if you own a henhouse, it is NOT a bad thing if you pick up eggs every two or three days.

It could be that Italy has a different standard in processing their eggs and they have a longer shelf life.

OR, they could be pastuerized? Can any Italians confirm this?

At 9:38 PM, Blogger Trench said...

whoa. Are you serious? Pacifiers until 5 years old? Uncut dogs. We all know Guam is just as bad if not worse. We have strays everywhere.

At 3:11 AM, Blogger Typesetter said...

Not only pacifiers. Children are often kept in strollers until they are 4 or 5. THis is a brand new thing, though. Until some ten years ago, as soon as the child was able to walk proficiently, the stroller was handed over or thrown away (or saved for future children if the couple wanted to have more). Though, in the past few years parents prefer to keep their children in stroller for longer and longer either to limit their movement or to avoid having to carry them from time to time. The result is fatter children that just will not walk.

Regarding eggs, they go through the same treatment as in the US. The difference is not in the eggs, it's in the hens. Here salmonella is rare because hens and chickens are treated differently. I do not mean necessarly better, just differently. We have more freerange poultry and they are also (unfortunately) fed lots of drugs to keep them healthy (so when you eat a chicken breast you don't risk salmonella but eat a dose of antibiotics 8-/). Also, probably we eat less poultry. White meat is not as prized in Itlay, and we may also eat less meat in general. Less meat eaten = less massified production.

At 5:32 AM, Blogger Eulinx said...

So I guess it's more an european thing rather than just italian, because I see exactly the same things in Germany:
eggs are not refirgerated, dogs are uncut, kids use pacifiers as long as every other kid I saw in Rome (though hardly until 5 years old, I must say!!).
But Turkish toilets I have never seen, not even in Rome, since ages! It's surprising to hear that you find them in 40-50% of the places you go to in Turin. I am 32 years old and I have never seen one since the age of 5!!

Ciao e a presto ; )

At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many countries, I've noticed, don't spay/neuter their pets. In fact, it's frowned upon. My sister and I had to sneak our dogs behind my mom's back to get them spayed....

Baby scales? Cute.

I try to avoid ALL public toilets if possible. Luckily, I didn't come across any turkish toilets in Italy. ;-)

It's interesting to read about explanations for the unrefrigerated eggs. I know that there are many other places that don't refridgerate their eggs....


At 12:27 AM, Blogger Judith in Umbria said...

Eggs are fresher here. I buy them one day after they are laid. There is a deposito date stamped on them.
Unless you know someone with hens in the US, your eggs are old!
Here most people, but not all, keep them in the fridge at home. In GB they don't. They think if it is old enough to need cooling, you should throw it out.
Italians seem to take neutering pets so personally! I paid to have my neighbors' cat spayed because we kept having dead kitties for one reason or another, but every dog here is entire. And when the neighbor down the road has a bitch in heat, off they go! They will do anything to get there. How many times have I found the supposedly chained dog on the road looking for love? And the neighbor down the road breeds truffle dogs, so he isn't so happy, either.

At 4:02 AM, Blogger Typesetter said...

Honestly, when I need to use a public toilet I always look for a Turkish one. In first place I find it comfortable to squat when I.... Uhm, use the toilet. Secondly, I think in a public place it's more hygienic. Actually, I have long toyed with the idea of having one installed at home, and if I just had a bathroom large enough to hold two toilets, one would have been a Turkish!

At 4:06 AM, Blogger Gia-Gina said...

I find them messier and stinkier than the normal American ones.

At 5:06 AM, Blogger Typesetter said...

Maybe. But the only part of me that touches them is the sole of my shoes. Which is not that clean either ^_^

At 5:28 AM, Anonymous joey said...

Yikes! I have some eggs sitting on my counter top now...and I live in the tropics! Uh-oh! We usually stick them in the fridge, but if there's no space too bad. Hmmm, methinks I should reconsider my wild, devil-may-care attitude about my food...

At 12:08 AM, Blogger barbara said...

Hi Gina,
I've no more your address because I've changed my PC temporarily.
Can you send me an e-mail?
Anyway, I don't think our eggs are pastorised, but they're fresh and usually on the shell there's the "best before" date.
I believe they're not pastorised because sometimes I found a chicken feather.... of course, I always wash them before using! =)
bye, b.

At 3:51 AM, Blogger MeatEater said...

Over here in Veneto and Friuli we have a ton of stray cats, and absolutely no squirrels. I remember going to Ohio for the first time after living in the EU for 11 years and seeing squirrels. I haven't seen them since I was kid. People were looking at my excitement like I was weird or something.

I've also noticed that Italy has more dirty restrooms than other places in Europe. I've also talked about this with Italians who've traveled around the EU. One of them said it's like as soon as you come back to Italy, you start to see the dirty toilets again. Turkish toilets are every where. I find them disgusting and I'm a guy! Even if the bottoms of my shoes are not that clean, I still don't want to step in that mess.

Another thing about food typically refrigerated in the US is milk. Here Parmalat came out with special containers like 30 years ago for keeping milk fresh while not refrigerated.

I've also noticed kids in strollers. I think they try to limit movement because they don't (or don't want to?) discipline their kids. They let them run around and try to tell them to stop but they don't and the parents don't do anything about. A lot kids grow up just wild!

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