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!