Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Friulano Language

We've just had a visit of several days from old friends who no longer live nearby, and who hail originally from the mountains of Friuli, near San Daniele, where the famous Prosciutto is made. They are actually from Spilimbergo, an ancient city famed for its mosaics. There are many beautiful old buildings up there, churches, a seminary, and municipal buildings, which contain breathtaking examples of both ancient and contemporary mosaic work, and there is now a renowned school where the art of making mosaics is taught. Go, if you can!
I have been enjoying the wonderful sounds of the Friulano language these past few days and while I understand almost everything, I still have difficulty speaking it and there is no one here other than my husband who does.
In all of Italy there are only two provinces which have a separate, written language besides Italian. They are Sardinia, where Sardinian is spoken, and Friuli Venezia Giulia, where Friulano is spoken. Everyone also speaks pure, unadulterated non-dialect Italian (Dante's Italian) and are proud to also be keeping their unique language alive. Imagine my surprise when I first went to my new husband's home, Italian-English dictionary in hand, and found that it helped me NOT AT ALL. His family, needless to say, spoke Friulano among themselves. I was mystified as to why, though frantically paging through, I could not find any of these strange words in my dictionary.
It wasn't until the second or third day that my mother-in-law, the wonderful Adriana after whom this blog is named, finally pulled me aside and in impeccable Italian (I knew it was because I had gone to night school in preparation for this trip!), she explained to me about the Friulano language. Bless her!
Now, I have books of poetry and prose in Friulano, and my husband regularly receives a newspaper from Udine (the capital city of the province of Friuli) which is partly in Friulano and partly in Italian. It is called "Friuli nel Mondo".
And what does this have to do with food? Well, I'll tell you. We tried our darndest to offer our guests the old dishes they would have grown up with, and they were, I think, pleasantly surprised.
We had Musetto, Brovada, Tripe, Salsicca, Prosciutto, and Polenta. Not all at the same time, but spread out over two days. Our cholesterol level is likely sky-high and we'll have to go heavy on the salads for a while now, but it was worth it! Great fun to surprise them, my being Canadian.
I don't have the strength just now to elaborate on that old-style Friulano food, I need to lie down, but I will soon give you some recipes. And if you are someone who has any connection to Friuli, you might want to know how to make these things.
Or maybe, like me, its just fun to read about them.
Mandy! (That's Friulano for Ciao, or Bye-bye, or Toodle-oo.)

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