Typography

THE SAME food can be experienced in a completely different manner at different latitudes. Some Italian specialties like cappuccino, coffee and pasta are consumed daily by many Finns, both in restaurants and in their homes. However, their preparation and consumption assumes peculiar cultural traits.

Check your attitude toward Italian food by answering the following test!

Giuseppe Lugano arrived in Helsinki in 2000. In 2004 he was one of the founders of Tsemppi, the association of international students at the University of Helsinki, in which he now acts as coordinator of international PhD students.

THE SAME food can be experienced in a completely different manner at different latitudes. Some Italian specialties like cappuccino, coffee and pasta are consumed daily by many Finns, both in restaurants and in their homes. However, their preparation and consumption assumes peculiar cultural traits.

Check your attitude toward Italian food by answering the following test!

1. Cappuccino

In Finland, cappuccino is a popular drink. It is available at most cafés in one variation or another. The point here is not to debate which place makes the best cappuccino, but rather when is the right time to drink it.

a. I drink cappuccino for breakfast because it is meant for breakfast (3 points)

b. I have never thought about this issue before (2 points)

c. I see no logical reason for not drinking cappuccino at other times of the day (1 point)

2. Tea or coffee

Unlike cappuccino, espresso is consumed at different times of the day, especially after meals. Thanks to caffeine, coffee alleviates somnolence inducted by digestion. However, not everybody likes coffee. For this reason, Finnish restaurants offer the choice of coffee or tea after a meal. In Italy it is highly untypical to order tea after lunch. Indeed, tea is associated with the morning or, following British customs, with the afternoon snack.

a. It seems strange to me to drink tea after lunch or dinner (3 p.).

b. It is fair to provide an alternative to coffee for those who do not like it (2 p.)

c. I enjoy drinking tea after meals because it alleviates somnolence, tastes good and doesn’t upset my stomach (1 p.)

3. Pasta

An average Italian eats 28 kg of pasta yearly, which indicates about 80 grams every single day of the year. In most other countries, the average is well below 10 kg per year. This evidence alone indicates that pasta is an essential element of the everyday life of each Italian. Although there are huge regional differences in preparing pasta dishes, Italians agree on three basic principles:

a) Pasta must be eaten as soon as it is ready.

b) Pasta must be accompanied by a sauce, which is mixed with it as soon as the pasta has been drained.

c) Pasta is also called first dish, or primo, because you’re not supposed to add salad, a steak or French fries in the same dish. In Finland, these three principles are not commonly followed.

a. I completely agree with these basic three principles (3 p.)

b. I agree with these principles, but I do not follow them that strictly (2 p.)

c. I think Italians are a bit too picky in regard to pasta (1 p.)

Your score

8-9 points: You are a purist of Italian food. You regard cultural variations of Italian food negatively because you believe that there are some basic “tacit” rules and norms that can’t be changed and need to be respected.

5-7 points: Your attitude to Italian food is neutral. You enjoy preparing and consuming it without being too demanding.

3-4 points: You are an experimenter. You regard cultural variations as enrichment and enjoy adopting them as surprising and pleasant twists of your original food-related practices.

Giuseppe Lugano

WorldCon 75, Scott Lynch; photo by Jana Blomqvist

Interview

WorldCon 75, Robin Hobb; photo by Jana Blomqvist

Interview

Based on an interview by Alisa Nirman on 3.10.2016

Interview