Buon appetito!

The neighbours' very welcome gift

The neighbours’ very welcome gift

The neighbours brought us a dish today, hot and ready to eat. We’d very unusually had an early lunch but it will make an excellent supper – most welcome on a day I had no other plans. It would be called something like ‘tagliatelle con pomodoro e carne macinata’ (‘tagliatelle’ with tomato and mince). It looks delicious.

It could well be prefaced by a very Italian phrase – one which has no satisfactory English equivalent: ‘Buon appetito.’

We might say ‘Enjoy your meal’ but it has to be a meal, not just anything you’re eating.

Other similar phrases are equally difficult to translate.

‘Buon lavoro’ (Good work). I said this to the olive pickers as I left them at it. Have fun? Sounds a bit flippant.

‘Buon viaggio.’ I’d sooner hear that than the rather grim ‘Safe journey’.

And my favourite: ‘Buona domenica’ (Good Sunday). The greeting that’s used from Friday till Sunday lunchtime and makes the day sound as though it’s going to be special. It’s what I said to the neighbours, as well as thanking them!

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