Thursday, November 26, 2009


This is an article of mine which was published in Italy Magazine yesterday. I share it here because I have always had a sneaking regard for recklessness:

Most Italians seem to think that Minister Gianfranco Rotondi has, at the very least, been daydreaming and many have declared him mad, for he has had the temerity to suggest that the sacred long lunch break is not good for the country’s productivity.

Newspaper cartoonists have had a field day, unions are up in arms and nutritionists have been quick to point out that Italians have a very light breakfast, if they pause for this meal at all. Nutritionist Pietro Migliaccio has stated that his compatriots en masse risk a “blood sugar crisis” in the afternoons if they do not stop work for the traditional Italian lunch.

In the south of Italy the long lunch break is widely observed, partly because the summer heat makes it impossible for people to continue working between 1 pm and 5 pm but in the north there are more and more companies who direct their employees to work to Northern European patterns. Bar owners, restaurateurs and hoteliers throughout Italy have always worked through the siesta hours, as do some manual workers and, of course, medical professionals.

However, the reckless suggestion by Minister Rotondi that a long break to digest what is still the most important meal of the day might be bad for both the waistline and the Italian economy has met with derision country-wide, especially as Mr Rotondi dared to compare the British and German short lunch breaks favourably. After all, every Italian knows that no other nation has the faintest idea how and when to eat so who is Mr Rotondi to criticise the time-honoured practice of turning city centres into ghost towns for the duration of lunch? Doesn’t he remember his mother calling, “The pasta is draining!” as mothers do all over Italy at 1.30 pm precisely? And as for holding up the British as exemplars of good eating habits – a nation of culinarily challenged clowns who fry food at 8 am and nibble dry sandwiches whilst working – that is too much for any Italian to stomach.

Too late, the now beleaguered Minister has claimed that he did not say that Italians should renounce their lunch break, but had merely pointed out that he gave up his own lavish lunches twenty years ago – an explanation that is being taken with a pinch of salt just large enough to add to the pasta pot.


Unknown said...

I wish long lunch breaks were a tradition here in the U.S.!

Cat said...

Hysterical....i just read this to my Italian partner (who has been living in the uk for years) and expected him to chuckle but his instant reaction was a very loud and indignant 'is he crazy?!?!' - actually he is still lecturing me on the more civilised Italian meal patterns as I type this.... As they say 'you can take the boy out of Italy but can never take Italy out of the boy'

Alex the Blogging Kat said...

Hi, Simi! MY hoomin bean sayz dat U dont gotz no Tankzgibinz in Sicily. Do dat be truff? Do ur moomy ebberz gibz U turkey to eatz? I getz to eatz turkey todayz! OK?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Nick. You could start a "long lunch" party! Hi, cb. Glad you liked it. I'm with your partner and the Italians on this one - I'm all for the long lunch. You'll never take Italy out of the boy qand I'm sure you're glad about that!

"Hi, Alex. It's Simi. Your hooman beanz is right. We don't get a Thanksgiving but we get a holiday on 8th December. I only get turkey at Xmas but I get ham every day! Enjoy your turkey and humour your hooman! Love, Simi xx woof!"


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