“O Angie, sei proprio una buona forchetta,” says Rita, with a slight snicker as she nibbles on a piece of bread.
Empty fork frozen mid-air, chipmunk-like full cheeks, one eyebrow raised, I stare up at her.
“Huh?” I’m a good fork? The hell does that mean?
I look at my boyfriend, the only other English speaker at a table full of Italians.
“It means you’re a good eater,” he says with a smile, and a look that says, “Be nice, Angie. It’s just a joke.”
The fork clinks against the plate as I drop it and hastily swallow my mouthful. I look at Rita, who’s still smiling at this new Italian idiom she’s taught me. She, like many of my other Italian girlfriends in Florence, is tiny. Although she was born, raised and still lives in the paradise of carbs we call Italy, she maintains a flat stomach, toned arms and not so much as a hint of a cellulite dimple. She’s also not anorexic or bulimic. She’s just Italian.
Hours later, we finish dinner at The Crazy Train, a no-frills restaurant (with a dumb name) on a dark road between Florence and Empoli. Cigarettes are smoked (by the Italians of course), goodbyes and double kisses are passed out in rounds.
Dinner was ok, but after being told I was a buona forchetta, I just couldn’t enjoy my food with the same zest.
“I mean, what does that really mean?” I rant in the car, as my non-confrontational boyfriend drives quietly back to Florence. “Was she saying I’m fat? Is that what it is, I’m the fat American? You guys all think I’m a Mcdonald’s loving fatty, huh?”
We ride back in silence as I stew in my resentment.
Days later I think about the incident, and decide to Google the phrase. Translation sites, language message boards, and dictionaries all tell me more or less the same thing. Una buona forchetta: someone who enjoys eating, and does so with gusto; a foodie, gourmand.
Hmmm. A gourmand, huh? Well that’s not so bad. Sounds kinda fancy.
I read more, and before I know it I’ve gone off on an internet tangent and find myself reading recipes, online restaurant reviews and local food blogs.
And that’s when I realize: I really am a buona forchetta. Who was I kidding feeling so indignant? I love to eat. And anyone who’s ever eaten with me or heard me describe a meal afterwards, knows I do so with passion.
And so from that now-favorite idiom of mine, I’ve made this blog, a place for me to write about food. Usually not anything that I myself have made, because while I love to eat, I was not gifted with the same enthusiasm for the process of preparing food, but instead a place to write about meals had, snacks shared and new places discovered. Living in Manhattan after two years in Italy, I figure I have plenty to work with here.
That being said, I hope you’ll come back and see what I’ve been grubbing on and where my gluttonous adventures take me. Buon appetito!
perfect post. fatties unite.
In brazilian portuguese we have the same expression. In my experience, it has nothing to do with being fat or eating too much in a bad way. It’s more akin to “does something with pleasure/gusto” applied to eating. A good fork is somebody that makes you feel happy about having cooked for them.
Absolutely! I was being defensive when I interpreted it as a negative thing. In Italian it’s basically the same as you said, someone who loves eating and does it with gusto! And I’ll fully admit to that!