Mastery of a few everyday Italian expressions goes a long way…
in helping expats (and visitors) assimilate into the Italian culture. Italians notice and appreciate the effort. Each time I put common words and phrases into use—ones that demonstrate I’ve made the effort to “fit in,” people smile, doors open, and conversations and interactions are richer. In other words, I don’t remain fixed on the outer fringes of Italian life like a spectator just looking in.
Asking for something “to go” in Italian has become an important part of my vocabulary.
This hasn’t always been the case because only in the past several years has Italy full embraced having a takeway culture. Still, it lags behind American culture in this regard (Americans have been hardcore “to go” devotees for decades). Italians prefer to stay and linger and chat with friends vs. grabbing a coffee “da portare via,” the expression used when asked for something to be prepared for carry-away. That’s why you don’t see coffee shops like Starbucks populating numerous street locations and catering to a grab-and-go crowd.
Restaurant delivery services like Foodracers have been catching on with great enthusiasm here in Italy, another indication that ordering takeaway has become commonplace.
Asking for a doggie bag.
It’s another form of wanting something to be packed up to go and hasn’t been embraced as fully. I’ve been told by some Italians that this has been slower to be adopted because people tend to think that going to a restaurant and then wanting your “scraps” to be packed up is bit tacky. Ten years ago, in my experience, you’d draw judgmental looks and confusion when you asked for such a thing. And, when you indicate that you’d like to take away the remainder of your meal (for yourself or for your dog) you’ll most likely be handed a box or container and be expected to do the dirty work yourself!
In this “Italian Snippet” I explain how to order takeaway.
It’s simple and easy. And, it’s not one of those phrases fraught with the danger of veering into a similar expression with a very different meaning. I encourage you to add it to your toolbox and put it to use!