Domestic

Her first business is to fortify herself with a cup of café noir, and then trip it to mass. Her devotions over, she returns to partake of what we should call breakfast, but what is in reality just the ‘collation’ (colazione,) as Italians name it; made up as it mainly is of bread, cheap wine, and whatever fruit is procurable. This sumptuous meal finished, she sets her domestic, either man or woman, to making the lodgers’ beds, (fancy a hulking, bewhiskered, white-aproned wretch making your bed, good reader, and thus recognize that it is by no means all poetry, this sojourning in foreign lands,) and like any solid Mistress Jones or Brown, of our latitude, hies forth to market. But if she goes to market, like Mrs. Brown or Jones, she does not, by a very great deal, purchase marketing like unto that of those ladies; for first, she wends to the baker’s, for a loaf or two of bread; then to the oil merchant’s, for a cruse or measure of oil; then to the wine merchant’s, for sundry bottles of a white and red mouldy cider, that is conventionally known as wine; then to the most dirty and picturesque Piazza Navona, for a few carrots, a cabbage or two, some broccoli, a little lettuce, a tiny joint or knuckle of meat, and haply a handful of snails, and a pint of chickens’ heads, all which are in one way or other got to the place of their destination; the breat, meat, and vegetables to do duty after their several capacities as soup and salad, the perchance ventured upon snails, and chicken occiputs, to be stewed, and served as side dishes, the wine to wash down the banquet withal; and the oil to serve as salad dressing, and likewise food for certain household lamps…

Notes of Womankind Abroad, 1861

September 9, 2014