I love how Italians eat lunch. The middle of the day is not just a stop to refuel, to grab something on the go, to get to the next point, it is literally in the Italian language a “pause.” You must pause, stop completely, rest.
It was the same in Uganda. Day after day I would marvel at the locals around me, no matter what their job: government official, housekeeper, garbage man; when it was lunch time it was lunch time. Everything stopped. Meals were lingered over in restaurants with those who could afford, or laps with packed meals from home. Each bite tasted and savored and always, ALWAYS followed with tea. Here in Rome it’s coffee, but the lingering is the same. I’ve watched many foreigners become impatient at the end of the meal because the check was not dropped off at the table. In Rome, as well as in Uganda, the meal is not done when the food has been finished, even the tea or coffee consumed, for there is always more pause. To drop a check in either of these places so quickly after a meal is culturally rude. You would never rush someone like that.
I think of back home where even in line at a check-out counter I felt like I was in a race to the end, what end I do not know, but stumbling with my wallet and trying to get bags together, I could feel the breath of frustration on my neck hurrying me along because the person behind me had to hurry along. Now every day I get to sit for lunch with pieces of Uganda in my heart, Italy holding me up and I say to myself when I start to feel those old feelings of unnecessary motion, “Sabrina, just pause.”