Monday, April 12, 2010

Vinitaly Day 4 ~ Speaking Visentin around the Fogo

gh'è pì paròle che lugànega

After another full day of hitting the stands, several of us decided to hit the road and take the Maculan family up on an invite to come to a Veneto BBQ at their stunning winery in Breganze. Great food, wine and company, one more reason to love Italy. But I do miss Texas. It has been the longest winter in my life. And I know when I get home it will be full-tilt Spring. I’m getting there.

Before I step on that plane, though, I spent a cool evening under the stars. My days have been filled with meetings, wine tastings, running around, the usual Vinitaly shuffle. So when I saw the local folks standing around the fire, talking in their dialect, I walked over to them and started asking, “come si dice questa in vènet?” How do you say it in the Veneto dialect? Probably not grammatically correct. But the spirit is a funny thing. When folks feel you are into communicating, even at a basic level, they respond. So it was on Sunday.

All the words for the chicken (polastro), the polenta (poenta), unless it gets hit by the fat from the fat of the sausage (lugànega) and then it’s poenta onta. I am probably messing up the spelling, but I am sure there is someone out there who will correct, someone who knows.

The Easter Colomba cake had a different name from each person I asked. But then I figured there were folks from different places and my inside Veneto expert always tells me there are many dialects in the Veneto.

In fact, we were having so much fun eating the last of the beans (in Salsa Veneta - with liver and anchovies) cutting up around the fire, (fogo), laughing and sharing a little ‘sgnape (or "sgnappa" - grappa) along with a little Torcolato (and some '89 D'Yquem), when one of my new friends corrected me. “We aren’t teaching you vènet, we’re teaching you Visentin.” So even deeper we went into the country, the culture, me a total innocent fool, who has been on the road too long, and finding a few moments on a Sunday to connect with something real, something you don’t find on the tourist routes. And that has been my quest ever since I first stepped into this county 40 years ago as a very young man. And while I’ll never really be an “Italian”, I know I have connected and will continue to connect, even with my faulty language and my silly sayings. The key to the heart is kindness. As my dear wife Liz so often would exemplify in her too short life, kindness opens doors that the force of 100 elephants cannot. I looked up at the stars in the cold night, thinking about her and those I love. I’m coming home.

The guys around the fire, such a great bunch, were warming themselves. “How are you doing, capo?” they asked me. “Io sono satsio e pieno,” I replied. I am satisfied and full. “E vecio,” they replied. And old, yes. Thanks guys!

As we left I waved to my pals and we all said “sciào” to each other. But that’s a whole ‘nother story, isn’t it Dr.P?


Unknown said...

You are correct- the key to the heart is kindness. Liz was a wonderful example of that. We can all learn from her.

Thomas said...


Don't worry: there's no correct or incorrect way to spell dialect.

Funny, the word verification for this comment is "mingl," and all I could think of when I saw it was "mingue!"

abalush said...

grappa in veneto si dice "sgnappa" :)

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