To drink or not to drink? Is one drink ever enough?

Italians don’t drink. The English drink. Except it’s only partly true. Italians drink, but our approaches to alcohol differ completely. An Italian friend (male) once told me, “I drink as much as the English.” When I scoffed that this couldn’t possibly be true, he explained, “I have at least two drinks before dinner, a bottle of wine with dinner, a liquor after dinner (This is especially lovely when the waiters leave the whole bottle on the table. The Italians would never think to drink the entire bottle), then maybe drinks at a bar afterwards.” Ok, I conceded this sounds a fair amount, but would you ever go out and not eat? The response suggested that such a night would not have been acceptable, or even considered. 
   Where I’m from, “Eating’s cheating” is a common refrain. Here in Rome, my Italian friends are not quite so willing to drink themselves into a stupor, it’s just not the done thing. It would be a brutta figura to lose control in such a way. I’ve been in situations where a night out has meant walking around looking for a bar that will accommodate ten people at an outside table, or hours spent choosing the right place to go, or waiting until everyone has arrived before a drink can be ordered, or not being offered a drink straight away, or waiting anxiously to see if anyone else is going to order a second drink without being thought of as an alcoholic, or being told, “Well you have another drink if you like, but I won’t have another.” Tut tut. You can literally see the English twitching, tension rising, fingers tapping, hands not knowing what to do without a glass filled with something alcoholic and the insecurity of not knowing when the next might arrive. It always makes for an interesting night out …  

4 comments

  1. 'A drink'is always enough. You just have to be open minded about the definition of 'a drink' There is a common misconception that 'a drink' means one glass. Consider this phrase: “we're off out for a drink.” Obviously 'a drink' can mean any quantity up to and indeed beyond 1 gallon of ale.

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