The last time I was home in Australia I became a victim to reverse culture shock. It’s a very strange affliction for an ex-pat living in Italy as usually every day you are battling tiny little moments of friction between yourself and your new home, but slowly you begin to adjust and don’t think about the smaller details.
Then when you go back to your hometown thinking you will be able to settle back in comfortably you realise how much you’ve forgotten.
Speaking mostly Italian, I find myself losing words and helpful phrases, sometimes my accent becomes a little Italianized without me realising.
I begin to miss the spontaneity of Italians, for organising things at the moment, when I find it strange not just to turn up at friends’ houses with a bottle of wine and whip up a bowl of pasta with a few simple ingredients, instead I have to make appointments to go out to eat with them in advanced.
I never order pasta at a restaurant in Australia as I’ve gradually become a pasta snob (yes there is such a thing). I will not eat overcooked pasta, it must be al dente.
And on my last visit home, I felt awkward at Australian coffee shops. Don’t get me wrong I still love an all-day breakfast and brunch is a dirty little pleasure I always indulge in whenever I’m home, but I have developed a problem with the coffee.
You see I’ve become an avid espresso drinker at home in Italy. Every morning I have at least two cups of the thick black delicious liquid, I can’t get enough of it, I even will drink it without sugar to get the most of the bitter full flavour.
I don’t crave thick creamy milk lattes, I can no longer stomach full cream milk cappuccinos or frappuccinos. Out with a friend for coffee, I accidentally ordered a latte instead of a flat white as I didn’t remember the difference and then felt terribly sick afterwards.
I’ve picked up a lot of little Italian picadillo. I want my coffee in a cup, not a glass (it gets cold too quickly in a glass and it tastes better in a cup), I want my cappuccino warm not boiling hot and I think people are strange to ordering a cappuccino in the afternoon (as in Italy it’s usually a breakfast drink). I am yet to find a good espresso in Australia that is not bitter and burnt.
I like going to an Italian cafe’, known as a Bar and having a quick, strong espresso while standing up, or grabbing a quick grappa if I’m feeling cold in the winter, or in the summer the ultimate ice coffee granita with whipped cream and brioche sweet bread.
I often wonder where on earth I would feel more at home, Australia or Italy. I’m beginning to think I might need to create my own nation apart to accommodate my strange culture shock.