An Italian Evening of Food & Linguistics


I had a scrumptious Italian buffet at the weirdest place last week…

Flaky apple tarts. I love these as the filling was not the jam-my & sticky kind, but purely stewed green apples; nicely moist and naturally sweet.

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My favourite, the Tiramisu, though a bit lacking in the coffee liqueur department while the shortcrust apple pie (on the right) were alright.

Below: The amazing repertoire of Italian food.
Grilled Zucchini, eggplants, capsicum and mushrooms in Olive oil and Garlic, Baked Layered Eggplant with Mushrooms, gorgeous Tender Chunks of Lamb in Rosemary Sauce, Lasagna of Mushrooms & Eggplant and Ciabatta Pizzas.

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And more….

Crumbed rice balls. ( is this French??)

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Ravioli of chicken in Mushroom sauce.

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And nothing beats delectable, juicy rawish red meatCarpaccio of Beef with Tuna Dressing.
I think I polished off half the platter!

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The feast, prepared by CIPOLLA Ristorante Pizzeria, Jalan Telawi 2, Bangsar, which under its umbrella runs ciccio in Changkat Bukit Bintang as well as the lesser – known CIAO Caffe Ristorante on Jalan Tun Razak, was indeed a feast, with extensive myriad of dishes and abundance in portions.

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All for the 9th Week of the Italian Language in the World, 2009, jointly hosted by Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, University Malaya and the Italian Embassy here in Kuala Lumpur.

The theme “The Italian between Science, Art and Technology“, takes place from 19th t0 25th Oct ’09, with exhibitions, Italian films reviews and screenings throughout the week.

Yup, the buffet was in Universiti Malaya on Jalan University.

My lucky self was invited to attend the academic talk by Dacia Maraini, one of the most renowned Italian writers in the world, by Marian Eu (thank you! thank you!) .
Throughout the evening, Marian kindly shared with me tips on creative writing, patiently explained the speech given by Dacia, introduced me to some of her friends & also ensured that I was well fed πŸ˜‰


The ambassador of the Italian Embassy giving his welcoming speech for Dacia Maraini.


Ms Dacia herself, with her speech focusing on the history, culture and evolvement of the Italian language.

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While her speech was detailed, the gist of it was pretty much the struggle of the Italian language,
since the early centuries in Italy.
Italian was the languages of the masses, a unified form of communication for the various parts of the country, where each region has their own languages, but with Italian, it was an easy & direct instrument of unity, in various regions & among social classes.

The Church on the other hand, imposed Latin as a common language.

Scholars, poets, inventors and scientists are all told to use Latin, for it was considered “plebeian” and undignified to use the common Italian in their research and written articles.

Fast forward a few centuries later, to now…and the Italian language is facing another form of servility, which was the focus of debate in Dacia’s speech.

She laments, that “instead of making an effort in coining new words, we conform to words already in use in a language that doesn’t belong to us, & which a larger percentage of Italians wasn’t even aware of“.

While I can relate, in the sense that even our national language BM has been caught in the onslaught of English terms and jargons (even in Malay publications, how often do writers uses the term ” ” elegant” instead of “anggun”, “jam” instead of “sesak” ??), or in everyday conversations; “Boleh pinjam tetikus (mouse) kamu?” , “sudah sedia untuk meeting (mesyuarat) nanti?”
Also the mindless direct translation of “collection” to “koleksi”, “ceiling” to “siling” and “vocal” to “vokal”, etc…

A mind opening speech indeed, especially when the audience started to voice their opinions, and topics that went around was on Dacia’s published books (she has written numerous novels and plays, translated to over 12 langauges all over the world), the tainting the purity of the language due to the “borrowed” usage of words in English and what are a writer’s responsibilities in preserving the authenticity of the language. Should you allow the use of foreign words and jargons in your published works?

One of the sentence in her speech that got imprinted in my memory was this;
How do we behave with a dominant language, which forces on us their literature, their cinema, their business, and also their culture and even their bombs?”

Food for thought indeed.




Category : General