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.
with Gorgonzola or Roquefort. Orthodox eaters will nevertheless request their spaghetti served just with fresh tomato pulp, the basic Neapolitan • rectpe. Pasta should come al dente somewhat chewy. Italians who order their national staple in eating places abroad always complain that what they get is pasta scotta overcooked pasta, a mushy abomination. The Italian housewife or pasta cook often fishes out a length of spaghetti from the boiling pot and bites it to see whether it has reached the right
unfavorable wind to abate; small boys picking up horse droppings, which they would sell as manure to farmers in the countryside; children carrying fish from the Santa Lucia waterfront to the markets, or gathering wood chips that the carpenters in the Arsenal were scattering, which they put into baskets and would take home for the kitchen stove; street vendors selling lemonade and cakes; Punchinello in a mock quarrel on a stage set up on a noisy street corner, nearby a quack peddling his nostrums
prisoner's death. Often the families of missing persons publicly inform the kidnappers that their victim is suffering from severe heart trouble or some other critical condition and needs continual medication. Most of the time these statements are untrue; they are simply meant to impress on the gangsters that their prisoner may die on them and also to induce them to buy the suggested drugs in some pharmacy (many drugs are sold in Italy over the counter without medical prescription). Antikidnapping
latest savagery in gory detail. The Mafia crimes inevitably feed North-South ethnic prejudice. Underlying all this is the contention most often unspoken, but sometimes expressed privately in so many words that those lawless southerners are not genuine Italians at all, and that their cruelty is the result of the admixture of foreign blood maybe Arabic, maybe Spanish in earlier gen·· • erattons . • 169 , • • • • ., Whenever a person has been murdered or kidnapped or some other crime has
least for a few years, but their products still lack a local market. Expectations that the new plants would generate many ancillary small and medium-sized enterprises in their areas have been disappointed. Italians speak of the solitary industrial giants in the Mezzogiorno as their "cathedrals in the desert." Some factories in the South were apparently built only to collect the lavish state subsidies for economic development in the region; they closed down after a few months or years, while the