Posts tagged ‘morgex’

October 25, 2012

ostrich milk

24.10.12 – journal – Morgex

On Sunday, when we’d got to the cheese course one of the carpenters, Carletto, said he wondered what ostrich milk tasted like. He’d seen it advertised online. Luigi sounded dubious and said that aren’t they birds, therefore NOT mammals, therefore couldn’t produce milk, therefore couldn’t produce cheese? And I just had to say, forced by my genetic predisposition to need to contradict everything anyone says, “No, I think he might be right. There’s something strange about ostriches. I think they might be mammals, like the duck-billed platypus.” I actually managed to sow seeds of doubt, and not just in my own head.

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October 25, 2012

the battle of the mean girls

More details about the fighting cows. That their moo is closer to a roar than a moo. And what is it with all that rubbing their face in the dirt? There’s the usual pawing the ground you see in bull-fighting, but here there’s also this vigorous and prolonged rubbing of both sides of the face in the dust they’ve just been kicking up. The first time I saw it, I thought the cow might have a bad case of conjunctivitis. Now I think it might be more like those pre-fighting rituals where you daub your face with dirt to look scarier. Or it could be the cows saying “This is my  turf, this is where I’m  going to go sleepy-byes tonight.”

In terms of violence, it’s nice that no-one wants them to injure themselves or each other, and you certainly don’t see the leaping around typically associated with broncos at the rodeo, but, according to Christina, they do, occasionally, lose a horn. They fight by horn-butting each other, and their owners often put plaster of Paris on the horns to protect them.  And I actually saw, during at a couple of the constests on Saturday, when two cows had locked horns, one of them getting enough leverage to lift the other completely off the ground by the head . It was quite startling. Also, I’m pretty sure they were often going for each others’ eyes, the bitches. The cows.

M. was laughing at one point at a cow who seemed to be using her tail like a windscreen-wiper to spread the shit that was coming out from her behind in all directions – including all over her backside. It was hard to tell whether it was voluntary or involuntary, but as a “get off my turf” tactic the cowshit-spreading strategy looked pretty good.

October 17, 2012

Rapunzel totally makes sense now

August 2011, Morgex.  M, L and N spent all afternoon measuring the dirt track that runs next to their property, and putting planks of wood the around the boundaries of their territory. They would never admit to this, but they were doing it in a really ostentatious way to deliberately piss off their neighbours. Later on, I witnessed our next door neighbour, Santo, deliberately knock one of the planks off the road while driving up to his parking spot.

Then, while L. was having a shower,  Massimo, Santo’s son-in-law, came out and asked G, if he could speak to L,, and ‘reminded’ her that the lawyer – whose? – had forbidden any more work on the road.

The boys have been having a testosterone-fuelled brag-fest this evening. L  is gloating to his sons how he’d seen his ex-friend, Ennio, driving his mother in his Vespa van up to their hut, his eyes “popping out with rage.” “I was pissing myself laughing,” L says.

They keep referring to the neighbours as “terroni”, a disparaging way of referring to Southern Italians. I have noticed that while Southerners sometimes refer to themselves as ‘terroni’, nobody ever calls Southerners ‘terroni’ to their faces. It’s not a word you ever hear on TV either – I think this word almost as taboo as ‘n****r’, but no Northerner will admit it.

All this arguing about, literally, a few square centimetres of land, has made me realize that the plot of Rapunzel, where the neighbour, who happens to be a witch, demands the couple’s first born child as a punishment for stealing lettuce from her garden,  is not so far-fetched after all.

October 17, 2012

dinner table politics

August 2011, with my in-laws. “Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just feed 2-year-olds with an injection,” I muse out loud. This doesn’t go down well. I am witnessing the usual dinnertime battle of wits between Mm and her parents to get her to eat. One of the rules of the game is that Mm shouldn’t cry – perhaps her parents think this is cheating.

Jamie Oliver is so wrong when he says the dinner table is the alter of family life.  Although, maybe it’s not such a bad metaphor, I mean, altars feature things like sacrifice and ritual slaughter, don’t they?

The way the food is served does a lot to affirm people’s status in the social order. In my mother-in-law’s family, of 6 children, the girls had to serve the boys, and the males were expected to be able to sit around and rest for an hour at lunchtime, while the females prepared the food, waited on them and cleared up. G says that she used to argue with her father that studying counted as work and she should be expected to rest as well.

This evening N served me a portion of ravioli that was exactly half what he served himself and his wife, and the same as what he served Mm. So that’s me put firmly in my place. Which is why I’m writing this at the dinner table.

What does it mean when L fills his glass with his cheap and nasty wine (that he amusingly calls his “scacciacugini” wine, literally, “wine brought out to get rid of visiting relatives”), just as M is opening the good bottle of wine we brought from Milan for his father’s birthday? Is this an inter-generational declaration of war, or just bad manners? L has also just turned his nose up at the “moccetta” (local speciality) we bought, saying the that the local supermarket brand is much better. He’s also refused to taste any of the cheese and biscuits I bought back from the UK. M. doesn’t seem to notice or mind any of this. I love that today.

October 17, 2012

the art of passive aggression

Summer 2011, dinnertime in Morgex. I’m noticing how you distinguish between pleasant and unpleasant exchanges between people, e.g. between M and I, or between my in-laws, G and L, or between M and his mother, G. I’m observing the art acting like a shit, while denying any such thing.

For when there are three or more of you: L’s voice is polite as he offers his wife some more meat, which she’s already said she doesn’t want, but at the same time he’s rolling his eyes at M. I refuse to make eye-contact with L now when he does this, although I was more complicit earlier on in our relationship.

For when there’s just two of you: the voice tone is perfectly polite, but there’s a silent beat afterwards, when the speaker is clearly adding the unarticulated thought, “…, you moron!” This sentiment can also be expressed by an almost imperceptible intake of breath after the most innocuous-sounding comments. The muffled sigh also works well.