Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Italian Condo Barbeque

I come from a country that is famous for its barbeques but I have never quite seen a barbeque in USA like the one I was invited to the other day. It was part of a phenomenon I like to call the Condo BBQ.

At the bottom of an apartment building or condo unit, you can usual spot a grill. During the summer, the residents of the entire building group together for a meaty dinner, prepared on that single grill. They set up a big plastic table and chairs, make sure there is a temporary canopy or umbrella overhead and then get down to the business of grilling sausages, pork chops and ribs for everybody.

The man, who wanted to invite my dog and me to his building's event, was donning a white paper chef's hat that was really cute to top off his plump figure: the perfect image of a barbequing enthusiast!

For me, the interesting part is that these people are celebrating not necessarily with friends, but trying to share a fun experience with their neighbors, who sometimes can even get on their nerves. In Italy, you learn to live with the good and the bad. There's no use in trying to isolate yourself, even from annoyances. There are always going to be people around to share in all parts of your life. You can't avoid them in this over-populated country.

Did you know that Italy and Japan have the highest human density per square foot of territory in the world?


  1. What a great story about BBQ in Italy! I still want to see someone grill a whole pig on a spit -- like the ones I see sold in the larger grocery stores.

    I didn't know that Italy has the highest human density per square foot, but I believe it. I'm from California, a state that has 30 million people. Italy is 2/3 the size of California and has 60 million people. But what strikes me is in Naples, with this many inhabitants, how is it possible that for the entire month of August as well as each Sunday this bustling metropolitan city becomes -- a complete ghost town?

  2. I still am waiting for that pig on a spit moment, too. I think you have to go to a community "sagra" to see that.

    Italy has 490 inhabitants/sq. mile and all of them leave the cities and hit the beach at the same time. It's wall-to-wall bodies along the seaside. It makes you not want to go to the beach in August.

    The benefits of this mass exodus is that the air quality gets better in August for cities like Rome and Milan because no one is around to be using their cars there.

  3. I love how the concept of barbeque transcends all cultures and countries...in some places, it's lamb, other's pig...but for most, it's a communal event.

    Still enjoying your linguist lessons! Must be fun to learn italian...I'm studying japanese, which I do honestly enjoy, but something about Italian seems... well, exciting!

  4. Mary and Sean-Italian is a language full of so many vowels you feel like you are singing even when just talking (although my area of the country has a more closed accent that is less lyrical).

    I studied Japanese for a while when first here in Italy and marvelled over the fact that the vowel sounds are exactly the same both for Italians and Japanese!