Sample Chapter from Italian Pride: 101 Reasons to be Proud You’re Italian
There is no exact English language translation for the Italian word convivio. “Conviviality” might be a cognate, but that word just doesn’t quite do it. Convivio is a particularly Italian kind of hospitality centered around the enjoyment of good food, good wine, family, and friends. A familiar scene in so many films with Italian subject matter will show a large group of people sitting around a long table, talking and gesturing passionately, as they pass dishes to one
In our family, Grandfather Moramarco always began holiday meals by spilling a few drops of wine on the pristine white linen tablecloth as he said “Buon Apetitito.” He did this to make guests feel at home and not worry about spilling things or making a mess. Naturally, Grandmother Moramarco was none too thrilled with the tradition, but that gesture is the essence of convivio.
When people are entertained in your home, the most important thing is that they feel relaxed and enjoy themselves. Convivio has nothing to do with elegant tablecloths, fine china, sterling silverware, crystal glasses, and the like. It has everything to do with taking pleasure in good conversation, enjoying a long, lingering, wonderful meal, and being surrounded by people you love and care for. It is the very antithesis of “fast food,” a sad American innovation that unfortunately has slowly made some inroads in Italy, although the resistance to it there remains strong.
The word is derived from the Latin verb convivere, which means to live together, but the Italian sense of it means specifically to eat together and to do it with great enjoyment and pleasure. Italians generally make wonderful hosts-one of the reasons, perhaps, that so many of them have thrived in the restaurant business, where convivio is essential to success. People don’t return to restaurants in which they don’t feel comfortable. But convivio has less to do with restaurants than it does with carrying on a tradition of hospitality at home. If you want to experience it, invite the people you love best over to dinner one night and spend the time with them enjoying their company, the abundant food you have prepared for the occasion, some fine Italian wine, and all the laughter, good talk, warmth, and love that the evening generates. You’ll want to do it again and again. And tell your friends to watch out — because convivio is contagious.