Monday, January 26, 2009

Italian Trinities

In the same vein as a glass being half full or half empty, there are those people who deem that good things come in threes and those who hold that bad things come in threes. Liking to hedge my bets, I opt for both scenarios. In an effort to explain the expression - notably the more positive one - there is a school of thought that suggests that this pithy little aphorism stems from the concept of the Holy Trinity - which as any Catholic will tell you, is chockful of positive things. Or at least 3 of them.

Italy being a Catholic country - there are as many if not more churches here than there are bars in Spain - the concept of bundling things in threes seems to be entrenched in every way of life. Or at least food and drink which is all I really care about.

How so? you ask. Allow me to introduce the concept of the three-pack.

1) Beer. Yes you can buy beer in three-packs. Not 4, not 12, not 24 but 3. Clearly this has been influenced by the presence of the trinity. Pick up a three-pack of Pedavena - a molto decent Italian beer - and there's one beer each for the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. You can be pious and democratic at the same time.

2) Bagels. Amazingly, you can buy not-so-bad bagels in Italy but like their hoppy friends, are sold in three-packs. The only rationale we can find for this is that allows one bagel each for a husband and wife, and one bagel for the widowed mother whose house they are living in.

3) Soft-flour tortillas. Not a typical choice, I know - I could have opted for the number of packages of breadsticks found on the average restaurant table - but that's why I chose it. Last Saturday, Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad & I joined friends at Rovigo's one and only Tex-Mex restaurant. Order the fajitas and you get three soft-flour tortillas with which to make your fajitas. Although, strictly speaking that's not accurate. In truth, you don't get any soft-flour tortillas with an order of fajitas (which ipso facto makes your vegetarian fajitas just a plate of vegetables) but if the nice people you are with order soft-flour tortillas as a side-dish (in which there are three) to their meal and they generously donate them to your very sad plate of vegetables, you get three soft-flour tortillas with which to make your fajitas.

I trust that you have picked up on the fact that I selected three examples to introduce the concept of the three-pack. A trinity of trinities. I am so clever!

I also trust that you have picked up on the inherent design flaw of the three-pack. Unless you are a member of the Holy Trinity, there isn't enough to go around. If you are a member of the Holy Trinity and you want seconds, you'll have to get busy with a miracle à la loaves and fishes. If you are my husband, then you are completely shit out of luck.

Legend has it that St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the concept of the Trinity to wild-haired Irish barbaric polytheists the Picts and other Irish peoples, i.e., how God is one god in three persons (a concept I still can't get my head around as not being polytheistic). I can't help but wonder, after his success in Ireland, if he decided to do the Grand Tour and headed to Italy with shamrock in hand. That would explain a lot.


Jillian said...

Welcome "back!"

This Cats Abroad said...

Hey Jill ... nice to see (hear from?) you again!