Thanks to the recent popularity of Anne Hathaway, the shows, The Jersey Housewives and The Jersey Shore, even though, as any true Jersey resident will tell you, those over-tanned rave muppets come from New York, (as a New Yorker I bow my head) it is coming in vogue to associate romantically with with anything Jersey . To the uninitiated, embarking on a relationship with a Jersey girl can be a complex and confusing experience especially if she is Italian. Fear not pasta fans, what follows is a handy guide to help you navigate the complex social mores and all-important eating customs of the Jersey sect.
–You will never be able to cook certain dishes as good as your Jerseys mom/aunt/grandmother. Don’t bother to attempt her specialty.
–“Gravy” is a catch-all term at the dinner table which can mean the red stuff on pasta or the thick brown goop on Thanksgiving turkeys, and possibly any sauce in between.
–Any meal or family gathering after 1:00 P.M. will probably be accompanied with booze, because coffee is served around the clock. It is extremely rude to offer neither beverage. The average blood stream content is 70% of either substance, depending on time of day.
–No matter when or how short your visit to the Jersey home, the family will attempt to feed you, feed you more, insist you have dessert, and send you off with leftovers and another type of food.
subtly ask your Jersey Girl how to properly eat your dish; they laugh at you if you eat something cold that’s meant to be hot or vice-versa.
–If you take any less than 3 helpings at a meal, you will be mocked as a lightweight. If you take less than 2, you’re insulting the cook. Roll with the punches and enjoy the reversal from average society.
–The strategy to proper eating is counter-intuitive. Rather than fasting for 2 days before the family meal to be able to cram down the anticipated 5 pounds of food, eat a large meal the night before and then snack constantly with your Jersey Girl throughout the day of to stretch your stomach to the necessary size.
–Dessert is a must. Plan your portion control accordingly.
–The dish “spaghetti” is rarely heard because, unlike everyone else, the Jersey will refer to it by the accented name of the specific noodle, and it turns out that spaghetti is a wimp noodle not good for much. “Penne,” “rotini,” and “campanelle” can all equate to the same food with the only difference being noodle shape.
–People are going to ask, “Can I try some of that?” then eat off of your plate regardless. On a related note, plates are going to be passed back and forth from one side of the table to the other at the far end. Don’t look annoyed.
–Kissing on at least one cheek is the standard greeting, even for people you’ve met once, never really met, or people you’d rather not touch.
–Get used to regional accents; words you think you know may randomly drop letters or sound completely different. For example: “COFF-ee” versus “CAU-fee”. On a similar note, heavily accented Italian words will be dropped at random into otherwise typical American sentences and no one thinks this is pretentious.
–Any use of the Southern vernacular word “y’all” will cause initial widespread strange looks.
–Expect family dinner conversations to include a minimum of 2 arguments varying from loud to ridiculously loud.
–Ease into talking about your favorite sports team, or be prepared to defend it to the death; inevitably your team’s rival will be a family member’s favorite ; they will bring it up every time they see you for years until you switch allegiances or die of old age.
–Gigantic immediate families with many people named after each other is the norm. Develop a nickname system to distinguish namesakes apart, like “big Mike” and “scrawny Mike” or “the Waste Management uncle.”
–Resist the extreme urge to make mob jokes, or at least be wary. You never know whose cousin’s mom’s husband might work for whom. Back away slowly if you’re the only one laughing.
–You can make Jersey jokes, but only after the natives have, to avoid angering everyone.
–If you’re invited on vacation, remember you’re going “down the shore” as opposed to “the beach”. Don’t go in the water when you’re there.
–No matter how you wear it or your particular Jersey Girls tastes, the makeup and hairstyle will seem drab compared to some relation of his who could compete with drag queens in expertise and styling. Ask her to consider extra eyeliner just to stay in the same ballpark.
–Crazy children flock together and run amuck at family gatherings. Watch your feet and your head. They throw things.
–Be on the lookout for eraser-phrases, as they are followed by the funniest bits of conversation you will hear. For example, “We love him, but…” or “…, no disrespect though.” It’s the Jersey equivalent of the Southern eraser-phrase “Bless his heart, but…” These are usually followed by hilarious embarrassing stories like, “…the last time he tried that he ended up with pink hair, his eyebrows burnt off, and was terrified of wind for weeks.”
Most importantly if you hear the phrases ” Lets go for a Ride ” or ‘take the Canolli.. Leave the Gun” ….one word of advice that came from my Jersey friends.
All these things you will have to know if you are trying to get a date with Anne Hathaway or any Jersey Girl. I wish you well GrassHoppers in your dangerous journey