By now, you know that I love reading books and memoirs that involve my twin passions, France and Italy. I have mentioned several other Italian books that I have read and loved, and even have a few recommendations in my Amazon store.
The latest, that I will add to both of those lists, is the very enjoyable Never Trust a Thin Cook, by Eric Dregni.
With wit and humor, Eric tells how he and his girlfriend Katy, both from the U.S., spend three years in Modena, Italy.
Modena, famous for its balsamic vinegar, its cars (like Ferrari, Maserati and De Tomaso) and the opera great Pavarotti, is located in the Central Northern part of the country, near Bologna.
This book had me busting out in laughter, in bed, at all hours of the night!
Which tends not to fare very well for the pseudo-hubs, who is both a light-sleeper and an early-riser.But I digress.
Dregni describes situations that many an Italian ex-pat has spoken of- including rivalries with the nearest city of Bologna, the locals’ obsession with calcio –Italian soccer, the red tape and bureaucracy of the Italian Government and how Italians themselves skirt paying tevú (television) taxes and of course, La Posta, the Italian post office. Mamma mia!
But Dregnis tales of teaching English to Italians are perhaps the funniest experiences he writes about in the book- from the unruly high-school students, adults that want to learn and talk about sex and even the business person who wants to learn English for career growth, but speaks in side-splitting slang in order to impress. And the school owner’s improprieties ranging from cheating with the secretary to not paying his teachers- and eventually leads to an audit from the Italian government.
His infiltration as a Lambretta owner at the important meeting of the Vespa Club d’Italia (Lambretta and Vespa are rival scooter manufacturers) held at the local insurance agent’s office, results in such overblown Italian drama- complete with fist-pounding and insult-shouting, as they talk about everything from women to authentic Vespa paint colors, to soccer!
The author also tells wonderful food stories (which of course I appreciate!) including the local trattoria, and visits to anacetaio (where they make the time-honored authentic Balsamic Vinegar) and to a Parmigiano cheese factory- that will leave you craving Italian food.
I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy of this book – but be forewarned- you’ll find yourself laughing out loud.
Perhaps in bed.
And my thanks to Heather Skinner at the University Of Minnesota Press for the review copy of the book!