That Fine Italian Hand
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No other people over so long a history have shown a greater knack for survival than the Italians. In this wryly affectionate book, Hofmann reveals his adopted countrymen in all their glorious paradoxes, capturing their national essence as no other book has done since Luigi Barzini's classic, The Italians. The national art of "arrangement"-- dodging taxes, double-dealing, working only as hard as one must-- is counteracted by Italian inventive genius, gusto for life, fierce individuality, deep family bonds (as well as animosities), and a marvelously hedonistic sophistication.
said to be insanely jealous, and one was advised never to glance too long at their wives, sisters, or daughters unless one wanted trouble. Unlike the Jewish immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe, the newcomers from the Mezzogiorno seemed to care little for education and books. Hence the stereotype of the "dumb Italian." As for the Irish, who also had to cope with much prejudice in the United States, when the Italians started arriving in force they found .the Irish already entrenched in
Trimmings and seasonings range from greenish pesto finely chopped basil, other herbs, and garlic mixed with cheese and pine nuts in Genoa to clams in Naples and eggplant in Palermo. The town of Amatrice, just northeast of Rome, is famous for its spaghetti all 'amatriciana, with bacon and pepper. In their search for gastronomic innovation to jus~ify higher figures on the check, many restaurants are now dousing their pasta in whiskey or vodka, garnishing their dishes with salmon, or greasing them
from the refrigerator for dinner, and a thousand other challenges large and small. A rrangiarsi in its various applications translates accurately as "to make do," or "to find a way out of a predicament," also "to make the best of a lousy situation." The important thing is never to crumple in adversity. The gift for getting out of a tight spot is coupled with uncommon resilience a national trait that has been cultivated and celebrated since the days of Boccaccio's Decameron. Innumerable are the
Venetia, and engage in the favorite Roman pastime of blandly malicious • gossip. Marta's salon later transferred to an even more opulent home in a villa below the Pincio was noteworthy also for its abundance of paintings and frescoes by Renato Guttuso. The Sicilian artist had been an early member of the Communist party, kept pleasing Stalinists with his style of "proletarian realism,'' and in 1974 received the Soviet Union's Lenin Peace Prize. Because of his political connections and because most
Bergman-Rossellini romance, denounced as scandalous by puritanical Americans at the time, helped spread the myth of the Latin lover in the shape of the mature and well-fed Rossellini, as it was and of his wicked charm all over the world. • • The impudent young man who would not be shaken off by Rossellini and Bergman was a new character on the Roman scene, and he soon had plenty of local competition. Federico 123 ' [/hat Fine Italian HanJ ' Fellini included the archetypal, aggre~sive