Across nations and cultures, throughout millennia, humans have been united by their love of food and drink – and Italy is no exception.
Food is so central to Italian culture that entire conversations at the dinner table often revolve around the meal at hand.
It’s often used in the way that in Britain people talk about the weather: how the pasta is today compared to yesterday, what pasta dish will be prepared for tomorrow.
I once spent an entire lunch listening to my tablemates debate the finer points of whether pizza bianca – white pizza bread with nothing on it – is the same as focaccia (it’s not) and exactly where they differ.
So it should come as no surprise that an Italian expression about everything ending well should employ a food metaphor.
“Finire a tarallucci e vino”: literally, “end in tarallucci and wine” is the Italian equivalent of “all’s well that ends well”, particularly referring to some kind of heated fight or quarrel resolving itself and ending peacefully.
Non poteva che finire a tarallucci e vino.
It had to end with them making friends.
Tarallucci, or more simply, taralli, are a kind of little twisted or ring-shaped biscuit from the southern regions of Puglia and Campania, typically paired with wine. They can be either sweet (to be consumed at the end of a meal) or savoury (to be eaten before the meal).
It’s rustic fare, the type of food peasants would serve to guests to welcome them on arrival, so came to be seen as a symbol of friendship and goodwill. If you’ve got to the stage where you’re able to sit down with your former enemy and snack on biscuits and wine with them, it’s a clear sign that the relationship has been restored.
In certain contexts finire a tarallucci e vino has come to take on the more negative significance of political parties with apparently irreconcilable positions coming to an agreement under the table in order to protect personal and private interests.
If you see it used in this way in a news article, it’s implied something suspect may be going on.
La lite tra i due politici ha finito a tarallucci e vino.
The quarrel between the two politicians ended in sweetness and light.
For better or worse, it goes to show that the power of food in Italy to resolve all situations – even if you started out ai ferri corti.
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