Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Even though many of those who spoke these expressions are no longer with us, my Squirrel Run family members, their descendants, and related community always had some expressions that I never seemed to hear from others outside of that part of my family. Some of the expressions were wise and inspiring, while others lacked some tact but were still simply unforgettable.

My Grandpop Salvo always had some great expressions that I remember clearly to this day. For example, if I wanted a cookie or a piece of candy, he would always remind me that "what tastes sweet to your mouth tastes sour to your stomach". He also mentioned regularly that any food that was grilled was better for you, because "the charcoal is good for your stomach". And one that my mother remembers him saying was that whenever you learned something you didn't know prior, that meant you would "live another day longer" for having learned it.

My Great Uncle Paul Ghione had an expression he was known by his children and extended family for: he seemed to believe that all children were born with a birth defect, because my cousins can all remember him asking them "do you keep your brains in your [rhymes with brass]???"

If our readers have expressions that they remember hearing their Italian ancestors say regularly, please drop us an email or post them to the Comments section under this article. I am sure there are many other expressions that are out there that I have forgotten my family saying, but will probably recognize instantly upon hearing them again!


  1. "If you eat too much cheese, you'll get cheese head."

    "If you eat green apples, you can die -- A little girl in Italy died of that!"

    These were repeated to me quite a bit as a child; the green apple threat was to no avail.


  2. When Great-grandpop would get frustrated with the grandkids (if he thought they weren’t behaving as they should) he would often start off by saying …

    “In the old country …”(followed by some statement about how things were different back in Italy)

    Or, if he was particularly frustrated, he would exclaim:

    “Animali!” (again in reference to his darling grandchildren)

  3. Why would anyone tell you not to eat too many green apples??

    Thank you for sharing, Anthony and Frank.

  4. Jim,

    We once had many apple trees growing here. Despite the dire warnings, I really loved to eat those little green apples.

    Still do.