Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The case for Svenska

{  Summer Barrel Tasting @ City Winery  |  Tribeca, NYC  |  11 June 2013  }

We ended up going out for pizza last night. Of course we did.

But first, I met R at City Winery for a little shindig they were throwing that we had absolutely no business being at (it was an event for the Classic Cars Club of Manhattan—of which we are definitely not members of, but the CW manager is a friend of R's so he kindly added us to the list). I walked over from my office in Soho after work, noted the adorable Shelby parked out front, and gave my name at the door to enter the winemaking part of their complex. Huge wine vats were being tapped with a serious number of wines out for tasting. City Winery is a restaurant, educational center and an actual winery—they make their own wines and allow members (something we are also not part of, oops!) to make their own wines there, as well.

After we sipped and sloshed our way partway down the line, we took a break and parked ourselves at an overturned-barrel-cum-table. At which point I felt it was a good time to launch into an emphatic, wine-fueled tirade against the Italian Consulate (naturally, since I was incorporating hand gestures, I had to revert to Italian). When I petered out I leaned my head against R's shoulder, sighed heavily and surveyed the room—at which point I noted a friendly-looking lady standing near us, so we all began chatting.

Surprise, surprise, she ended up breaking out into near-perfect Italian when R introduced himself (and she asked upon hearing his accent where he's from). Turns out she's been married to a man from Milan for 6 years. They're planning a trip to Sicily this summer so we were showering her with ideas and advice. She also casually mentioned to us she was waiting for her Italian citizenship through marriage to come through. Something she had applied for three years ago.

Three. years. ago.

She's still waiting for it! And, they live right across the Hudson River in New Jersey, so she submitted her application through the Newark consulate, which I imagine has significantly fewer cases than the Manhattan consulate—my local branch.


She was a lovely lady and it would be nice to do something with her and her husband, as she suggested, but, oof! that news was unwelcome. The only thing that could cheer me up after that was a lush, burrata-topped pizza from Emporio, one of my favorite sources of gluten-free pies—although they've just begun charging extra for it!—in the city.

So, lessons learned?

1. I need to start studying Swedish. Luckily I wasn't saying anything horrific in Italian that may have caused offense, but—more than once—I've been saying something somewhat sassy under my breath to R and turns out the people next to us speak Italian. This happened just last month on the way back from Mexico!

2. The citizenship process is basically a never-ending stream of nonsense. Although, perhaps I already knew that. Yep, definitely knew that.


  1. specials lists... memberships... where the real magic of NYC happens :)
    you know what, forget what you heard, you will get your italian citizenship super QUICK! I said so, mark my words I'm never wrong, like ever. You will be buying me champagne because I'm right...

    1. You are seriously the best cheerleader ever! Thanks for always being so positive about things. :) Hope to toast to you soon!

  2. I'm so jealous you speak fluent italian! I studied it for a year after college...just because i loved the sound of it. My problem was that NOT ENOUGH people were speaking it around me and so i had to resort to listening to internet radio to hear actual real people speaking it in natural tone.

    I have to say it was a really nice 360 to be listening to Radio Centro Suono in some corporate desk to then be listening to it for real in our car in Sardegna with Alla Karen and Rena :)

    how often do you speak italian at home? And is it more of a sicilian dialect?

    1. Well, "fluent" is a bit generous. The "get by" level is far more appropriate ;). The problem is that my husband and his mom and brother speak near fluent English, so there's a lot less impetus for me to keep it up. I tend to switch to English when the topic gets complex, I'm tired, or there's too much tense-switching necessary to get my point across :).

      When we write to each other during the day from work (email, Gchat, Whatsapp, etc.) we do about 90% Italian, when we're at home, probably much less, like 50%, if not 40%. We speak pure Italian, although I pepper mine with the words I know of his Sicilian dialect. I consider that an entirely new language (and I have that in the queue after Swedish ;) ).

      Agree about Italian radio at the office. I used to do that but fell out of the habit. I should start that up again!

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  5. Sorry for the 2 deletes, but blogspot kept deleting a word that didn't make sense without them... because i used carrots around them... anyway :)

    i kinda like the sicilian accent - perhaps not to learn as the base italian but all the "sh-shing" sounds are kinda fun. ohhhh writing to each other in italian (swoon) ... I love that language is like knowing a "special" code. (except for the times when someone else happens to know your code hehe)

    And yea it's funny how our minds want to shut down when topics get too complex... i remember wondering if my brazilian dance teacher just wasn't listening or didnt care about what we were talking about, but then realized later, he was tuning out b/c it was too difficult to keep tracking with us on...

    nice! re: italian radio :)

    1. Ooo, I love the Sicilian dialect. Totally agree with the "sh-shhing". When I first met R, I thought he was speaking Arabic (and there are a lot of similarities, particularly the double vowels, and "sh-shhing"!).

  6. Hi J,

    I really like your take on Svenska. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing such great advice and stories on your blog!

    I’ve taken a look through your website and we think you’ve done a fantastic job in covering topics that our brand's foodie audience would be interested in, especially about restaurant reviews in NYC. It would be great if you could join our community to feature your blog entries.

    If you would like to learn more about this, please send an e-mail with “NYC” in the subject line to info [at]

    Tina Jin


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