The View from My Kitchen

Benvenuti! I hope you enjoy il panorama dalla mia cucina Italiana -- "the view from my Italian kitchen,"-- where I indulge my passion for Italian food and cooking. From here, I share some thoughts and ideas on food, as well as recipes and restaurant reviews, notes on travel, and a few garnishes from a lifetime in the entertainment industry.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

WTF! The Pope Said WHAT?

Hey, Your Holiness, That Ain't a Hail Mary You're Sayin' There

Many years ago,my grandfather was a handyman for a small Catholic church. He kept up the lawn and did general maintenance. The priest who oversaw the church was a very nice, very genial sort of guy; very easygoing. Except when you did something to really irritate him. Like his housekeeper once did.

There was this frying pan with a loose handle that the priest had thrown in the trash twice after having his breakfast eggs dump out onto the floor. For some reason, the housekeeper kept retrieving the defective pan and putting it back in the cabinet. After the third incident wherein the normally long-suffering cleric lost his breakfast, he also lost his temper. He stalked to the back door, flung it open, cocked his arm back, and prepared to launch the offending pan as far away as his anger-fueled strength would allow. And my grandfather happened to be in the back yard at the time. He took one look at the livid, red-faced priest with his arm cocked back and a frying pan in his clenched fist and deadpanned, as only my grandfather could, “Hey, Father, that ain't a Hail Mary you're sayin' there.”

I was reminded of that story when I read about the recent imbroglio involving Pope Francis. Not that the Holy Father was ready to hurl a frying pan into St. Peter's Square, but rather because of his use of a rather colorful Italian obscenity. I think my grandfather's priest was probably thinking what the Pope actually said. But in this case, it was unintentional.

And that's actually what the Pope was trying to say; “in this case.” While delivering his weekly blessing from a window in the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis was talking about amassing riches. He meant to say, “ this case the providence of God will become visible through this gesture of solidarity.” In Italian, that would have been, “in questo caso la provvidenza di Dio diventa visibile attraverso questo gesto di solidariet√†.” And the Pope said something......pretty that. Except instead of “caso,” the Pontiff said “cazzo.”

I heard somebody refer to “cazzo” as “the Swiss Army knife” of Italian curses. It's good for just about any purpose. Want to call somebody a “dick?” “Cazzo” is your word. And if you want to express your frustration by saying “f**k!,” just say “cazzo!” So it's no wonder the throng of faithful followers – especially the Italian ones – who gathered to hear the Pope's words of wisdom were a little taken aback by that one. All over the square you could probably hear confused and/or bemused Italians saying, “Che cosa ha detto?” (“What did he just say?”)

To be sure, the Pope immediately corrected his mistake and soldiered on with the speech as if he hadn't just dropped the F-bomb from the wiindow of the Vatican. And to be utterly fair, Italian is not the Pope's native language. He speaks Spanish. And while the word for “case” is the same in both languages, that other word bears no resemblance to its Spanish equivalent. Or maybe he was just trying to see if everyone was paying attention. They were.

Hey, giving a speech in a foreign tongue is a perilous proposition at best. I mean, how many times have wars started because somebody meant to say, “thank you for your hospitality” and accidentally said, “your daughter looks like a horse”? It happens. So, dare il Papa una pausa cazzo, va bene? I'm sure that particular faux pas will NEVER happen again.

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