Sicilian Culture

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Sicilian Culture: Daily Italian Lessons

"Mezza Mezza" means "half and half" not like the milk in your coffee, but how you feel in general.  If someone asks how you are and you say "mezza mezza" it means you are taking the good with the bad. 

"Cin Cin" means "celebration" in Italian

"Cent Anni" means 100 years in Italian.  It is most commonly used as a toast as if to say "may we have 100 years of life, love, health and happiness"

"Ospedale" means hospital, which is what they still call them in Italy, unlike in the United States, where we have started to call them "Medical Centers".

"Fragolina" is a strawberry, fragolini is many strawberries, but since the word fragolina is feminine, you can also call your sweetheart "fragolina" just like you would use the word sweetheart.

"Pazienza" (patience) is the key to life -- in work, life, love... have patience with people, learn to relax, as nothing comes from trying to force it.  

"Gavone" is correctly pronnounced and spelled "Cafone", which literally translates to boar.  But, if you are a "cafone" you are what we might call white trash here in America, which is not a compliment, so mind your manners at the dinner table to avoid being associated with a farm animal that rolls around in the mud.

"Paesano" is often misused as a greeting for "friend" but more accurately it is a greeting for someone who is your neighbor, a fellow villager. If you commute to work in New York City from a small New Jersey or Long Island suburb, and you see someone from the same town on the bus or train, you can say "ciao paesano", "amico" is friend.

Felice Compleano, Cuanto Anni? (Happy Birthday, how old are you?)  The saying is similar in Spanish.  Instead of Feliz (happy) it is Felice (felleechay as oppose to felise)  Cuanto Anni (anno is one year, anni, with an "i" not an "s", makes it plural). 

Regazza is a girl, regazzo is a boy, (O is masculine, A is feminine) if you have girls and boys, it is regazzi, the "i" is plural, (not "s").  So at the same time, one ravioli is raviola, many is ravioli, same as anything like that, you do not have "raviolis" or "cavatellis" for dinner, you have ravioli or cavatelli, with perhaps cannoli for dessert!

Italian and Spanish are very very similar languages, in fact, many Hispanics tell me that if they listen closely enoughto Italian programming they can understand much of it.  Amiga means female friend in Spanish, Amigo means male friend.   In Italian, female friend is Amica, and male friend is Amico, if you have a group of male and female friends, or many friends,  it is Amigos in Spanish, in Italian, the "i" is plural instead of an "s" so you have Amici.  Caro Amici is "dear friends" in Italian.

"Dolce" means sweet.  If you see this on an Italian menu, it means "dessert".   At the same time, it can mean the same (as in English) it can be an affectionate term for your mate.

"Dolce Sogni" means sweet dreams in Italian. "Sogni d'ora" Means "golden dreams". So next time you look into your mate's eyes before you kiss them good night, say to them: "Io voglio vedere tu en mi sogni" (I want to see you in my dreams).

When ordering from a menu in an Italian or Sicilian restaurant, if you do not understand what "Siciliana" means, ask first, for example, if you order Lasagne Siciliana, that means, you are ordering lasagna with meat sauce filling, whereas the Italian lasagna is just ricotta cheese, no meat sauce.  When it says "Siciliana, Napolitana, Milanese, Romana" and you are not sure what those differences are, ask, because that dish can be very different from region to region of how those dishes you are used to.

Buon Natale e Felice Nuova Ano!  (Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!)


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