I ran in a race on Saturday and my prize was not a medal but a bag of food, which I thought was the funniest thing ever. It was in addition to the backpack full of food and body soap we got just for participating in the race, and the prize bag was BIG. The group of people (all Italians) with whom I had run saw nothing out of the ordinary about receiving pasta and coffee and a chocolate dessert as a prize. The bag also contained little tiny snack salamis and one very large, fresh artisan salami, apparently made by a meat curer of local renown.
So I brought my bag of food home and put everything away and when the boys came back from a weekend with their dad, they were overjoyed at all the treats. I rarely buy big fat salamis, so it was cause for celebration. They have managed to have a couple of slices at every meal since then.
Today, Seven had a friend over to play and for lunch I served them the salami with roasted potatoes, first the little snacky ones, then a few slices of the big, fresh one. Their eyes widened as they ecstatically peeled their slices.
“You know,” my son said to his friend, “the skin is the intestine of the pig.”
“I know,” his friend replied. “And you know how they make salami?”
“Yes,” said my son.
“First they kill the pig.”
“Yeah, they hang him up and cut his throat.”
“Yeah. Then they take out the eyes and cut off the tail.”
“And use a syringe to suck all the blood out.”
Together, they pieced together the various steps of the process, and their account seemed mostly accurate to my inexpert ears, all the way down to the aging of the salami in a cellar or refrigerator cell. They did this while eating their salami, with a far off look in their eyes, the way I’ve seen some Italian men get about a dish or food which they particularly enjoy.
Nature or nurture? Are they born with it or are they indoctrinated at Italian school? Could it be their fathers? The influence of their peers? I’ll never know for sure.