Monday, March 19, 2012

Italian - American(Anglo) Culture Clash #1: Give me Fever

A while back my Italian brother in law tried to argue with me that the only difference between living in Italy and the U.S is the language. I beg to differ. The truth is however,  that after 11 years, I tend not to pay attention anymore and when something does come up I brush it off, but I am  now starting to think that it is worthy to point them out as they occur. I hope you will find some interest or at the very least a bit of humor in dissecting the differences between these two ways of life.

So here we go, I'll start with #1

What to do in case of Fever:

Last week my husband was sick. He woke up with a fever of 38.5 (101.3).  Certainly uncomfortable and definitely worthy of staying home and resting. After taking a fever reducer and before getting back in bed he puts on another sweatshirt and gets under the down comforter. I proceed to take care of him by placing a wet wash cloth on his forehead and making sure he has a bottle of water next to the bed to stay hydrated. I pull the comforter off of him in my attempt to help him lower his body temperature.....big mistake.

 This apparently is NOT the way they do things around here. ( Mind you, in the 11 years that I have known him this is the FIRST time I have ever seen him with a fever)  No, in his upbringing being cold (shivers as a result of a fever) means that illness is sure to surmount and that the only way to get better is by staying warm, i.e under the covers. He then proceeded to eat steaming hot pastina for lunch and dinner.  Surprisingly, even after having taken the fever reducer again his temperature was still 101.3. I wonder why?

And of course my explanation that keeping his body warm by eating hot food and staying under the down comforter was not the proper way to reduce a fever was contradicted with his explanation that being cold will only make it worse and why would I want him to suffer like that?!

Speaking of illness, any illness, the Italians believe that the cold is to blame. And this is why you will rarely find air conditioning in Italian homes, even if it is 101.3 outside, they will tell you that air conditioning is bad for you and it will indeed, senza dubbio, cause every sickness and ailment under the sun from a cold to bronchitis, from a stiff neck to a back ache. Ho preso freddo ieri sera is a common expression used in the morning around my house. 

So there you have it. Cold = bad, so make sure you cover up out there!


  1. So funny... it's the same in my country, people keep warm if they have a cold :D

  2. Thanks for your comment Diana, it must work since you don't hear about too many people dying of a cold!!! I love that there are many answers to one problem!

  3. Haha... Same here. I always sweat out the fever... Best way ;) and, actually I also agree about air conditioning... I don't think it's good, even though it might be necessary. I too hate cold. Maybe European craziness. OR I am more Italian than Swedish. (yay! Knew it!!)

    1. Helene! So funny! You are Italian at heart for sure! Its so fascinating to me because American doctors would never recommend sweating it out - quite to opposite, they recommend cool liquids, and even cold baths!!! And I guess it must be what your used to, I grew up in Southern California where the AC was on probably 200 out of 365 days of the year and every shop, restaurant and any other public place always has it on. Is it excessive? certainly, but I guess the body must get used to it!!!! So interesting! I am really excited to post more of these Culture Clashes to learn what others do! Maybe us Americans are the crazy ones! Thanks for you comment! Always appreciated;-)


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