A fierce pride – Costa Ricans and football.

costa rica

As soon as the referee whistled the end of the Italy – Costa Rica match, Costa Ricans stood up and started jumping and screaming in the grip of a wild joice. In this way Costa Ricans exulted at the end of this historic match, which saw their country going forward for the first time in the world cup’s history.

It seems to us Europeans, that such a victory achieved against Italy and the draw with England was a kind of a miracle. However, if we see more deeply, football or soccer is a massive part of Costa Rica’s culture. In fact, this sport is the most beloved national past time and it is so rooted into the culture that even the smallest towns have a public football field.

According to historians, Costa Ricans began playing soccer in 1876, however, it was but it wasn’t until 1887 that the country’s first team complete with uniforms and a regulation ball brought from England began playing in the San Jose county of Tibas. By the early 1900’s, San Jose residents had taken to playing organized games, and local sports clubs included soccer among their list of practiced sports – baseball, fencing, bicycling and horseback riding were other popular hobbies of the day.

To this date, soccer or football remained the most followed national sport. However, what I noticed was this distinct feeling of pride Costa Ricans are living in this tournament of 2014. A feeling which is so strong that make us to perceive them as fierce soldiers who are determined to win not only a battle but the war.

In conclusion, I wonder why is football culturally more powerful in some countries (where is regularly played of course) than in others? Is this sport giving the national identity a real boost or is it the other way round?

Go beyond language and culture barriers learn with us.



Father’s day around the world

It’s on the 19th of March in Italy, Spain, Portugal and other countries, it’s on the third Sunday of June in the UK, Costa Rica, Turkey, South Africa and many more countries. Father’s day seems to vary a lot and sometimes when you live in the UK, you are Italian and your father lives in Costa Rica is a bit confusing. However, I stick to my culture with the 19th of March, even though I have been living abroad for very long time. So, I wonder even though we live abroad do we remain deeply rooted in our culture, do we integrate with the host culture enough?

Father’s day was actually created to complement Mother’s Day, for the first time in the US in the 20th century. Today is celebrated all over the world on different months. In catholic countries it is celebrated on the feast of St Joseph and in Italy we even have a dessert named after such a Saint, le zeppole di San Giuseppe.









Want to learn new cultures and their cuisines try us languagesalive.com

Are you curious to know where and when is this event celebrated? Here is a list taken from Wikipedia. Enjoy it

Gregorian calendar
Occurrence Dates Country
February 23 Russia (Defender of the Fatherland Day[23])*
March 19 Andorra (Dia del Pare)
Belgium (Antwerp)
Mozambique (Dia do Pai)
Italy (Festa del Papà)
Switzerland (Canton Ticino)
Portugal (Dia do Pai)
Spain (Día del Padre)
May 8 South Korea (Parents’ Day)
Second Sunday of May May 12, 2013
May 11, 2014
May 10, 2015
Romania[26] (Ziua Tatălui)
Third Sunday of May May 19, 2013
May 18, 2014
May 17, 2015
Ascension Day May 9, 2013
May 29, 2014
May 14, 2015
First Sunday of June Jun 2, 2013
Jun 1, 2014
Jun 7, 2015
Lithuania (Tėvo diena)
June 5 Denmark[27] (also Constitution Day)
Second Sunday of June Jun 9, 2013
Jun 8, 2014
Jun 14, 2015
Third Sunday of June Jun 16, 2013
Jun 15, 2014
Jun 21, 2015
Afghanistan[citation needed]
Albania[citation needed]
Antigua and Barbuda
Brunei Darussalam
People’s Republic of China**
Costa Rica[30]
Czech Republic
Hong Kong
Puerto Rico
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
South Africa
Sri Lanka
Trinidad and Tobago
United Kingdom
United States
June 17 El Salvador[37] Guatemala[38]
June 21 Lebanon[39]
June 23 Nicaragua Poland
Last Sunday of June Jun 30, 2013
Jun 29, 2014
Jun 28, 2015
Second Sunday of July Jul 14, 2013
Jul 13, 2014
Jul 12, 2015
Last Sunday of July Jul 28, 2013
Jul 27, 2014
Jul 26, 2015
Dominican Republic
August 8 Taiwan
Second Sunday of August Aug 11, 2013
Aug 10, 2014
Aug 9, 2015
First Sunday of September Sep 1, 2013
Sep 7, 2014
Sep 6, 2015
New Zealand
Papua New Guinea
Second Sunday of September Sep 8, 2013
Sep 14, 2014
Sep 13, 2015
Third Sunday of September Sep 15, 2013
Sep 21, 2014
Sep 20, 2015
First Sunday of October Oct 6, 2013
Oct 5, 2014
Oct 4, 2015
Second Sunday of November Nov 10, 2013
Nov 9, 2014
Nov 8, 2015
Estonia (Isadepäev)
Finland (Isänpäivä)
November 12 Indonesia
December 5 Thailand (The birthday of King Bhumibol)[40]
December 26 Bulgaria
Hindu calendar
Definition Sample dates Country/Territory
(Gokarna Aunsi)
Between 30 August and 30 September Nepal[41]
Islamic calendar
Occurrence Sample dates Country/Territory
13 Rajab June 16, 2011 Iran


Cultural values dimensions: a study case – British VS Italian culture



This essay analyses a case of intercultural interaction, the inefficiency of which, led a teaching agency located in Milan (Italy) to become insolvent. Section 1 gives an overview of the agency’s business organisation by describing its structure, culture and the broad environment in which the agency operated. Section 2 delineates the changes implemented and the reaction of the teaching personnel. Section 3 offers an explanation based on the relevant cultural dimensions developed by Hall, Hofstede, and Trompenaars; while section 4 lays bare the objections to such dimensions, and explains up to what extent these can facilitate effective communication in a multicultural work context. Finally, the conclusions suggest possible approaches which could help businesses to avoid intercultural misunderstandings.

 1. Background

The English Learning Institute (ELI) was an agency which provided English native speaker teachers with a QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) which they could use in high schools in the greater Milan area. The agency was founded in 2005 when its two co-founders saw an opportunity in the target market to supply qualified mother tongue English speakers to private institutions. Even though the agency started out as a small business, only two years later it was already employing seventy members of staff, twenty of whom were assigned to management and administrative tasks, whilst the remainder made up the teaching staff. To meet the high demand for British English, the majority of teachers employed were native British citizens. Usually, the agency offered full time contracts, however, a few teachers opted to work on a part time basis. The ELI was located in a picturesque, historic building in the Milan’s centre, and boasted an innovative and remarkable resource area supplied with the most up to date English language teaching materials. In addition, it offered a spacious canteen which provided free meals to its employees.


Continues …

Focaccia a little history

Hi folks, welcome back to my blog, I thought of given you a little info about focaccia considered by many as a kind of bread and as a kind of pizza by others. You have a little history below…

In ancient Romepanis focacius was a flat bread baked on the hearth. The word is derived from the Latin focus meaning “hearth, place for baking.” The basic recipe is thought by some to have originated with the Etruscans or ancient Greeks, but today it is widely associated with Ligurian cuisine.

As the tradition spread, the different dialects and diverse local ingredients resulted in a large variety of bread (some may even be considered cake). Due to the number of small towns and hamlets dotting the coast of Liguria, the focaccia recipe has fragmented into countless variations (from the biscuit-hard focaccia of Camogli to the oily softness of the one made in Voltri), with some bearing little resemblance to its original form. The most extreme example is the specialty “focaccia col formaggio” (focaccia with cheese) which is made in Recco, near Genoa. Other than the name, this Recco version bears no resemblance to other focaccia varieties, having a caillé and cheese filling sandwiched between two layers of paper-thin dough. It is even being considered for European Union PGI status. Regional variations also exist, such as focaccia dolce (sweet focaccia), popular in some parts of north-western Italy, consisting of a basic focaccia base and sprinkled lightly with sugar, or including raisinshoney, or other sweet ingredients.[5]

Focaccia is present in many variants in Italy itself, for example the focaccia alla genovese, originated in Genoa, the focaccia alla barese, from Bari, or the focaccia alla messinese, from Messina. Another widespread variation is the Focaccia Barese, common in the provinces of BariBrindisiLecce and Taranto. It usually comes in three variations: classic focaccia with fresh tomatoes and olivespotato focaccia with potato slices 5 mm thick and white Focaccia with salt grains and rosemary. Some other variations include peppersonionseggplant or other vegetables.

In Burgundy, focaccia is called “foisse” or “fouaisse”, and in Catalonia, Provence and Languedoc it’s “fogassa” or, more commonly, the French “fougasse“. In Argentina, it is widely consumed under the name fugazza, derived from fugàssa in the native language of Argentina’s many Ligurian immigrants. The Spaniards call it “hogaza”.

In American-English, it is sometimes referred to as focaccia bread. The Sicilian-style pizza, and the Roman pizza bianca (white pizza) can be considered a variant of focaccia. Focaccia is used extensively as a sandwich bread outside of Italy.

*info taken from Wikipedia UK

Gnocchi: a tradition that evolved with time

Gnocchi is one of the most popular preparations around the world as they constitute a very simple and filling dish that is suitable for any kind of seasoning.We can define gnocchi as small pieces of dough, usually round in shape, which are boiled in water or broth and then served with various sauces.Dish of ancient origins, gnocchi can be prepared with different flours: wheat flour, rice, semola and they can be made with potatoes, bread or vegetables. The word gnocchi may derive from the Italian word nocchio, meaning a knot in wood or from nocca (meaning knuckle). It has been a traditional Italian pasta type of probably Middle Eastern origin since Roman times. It was introduced by the Roman legions during the enormous expansion of the empire into the countries of the European continent. In the past 2,000 years, each country developed its own specific type of small dumplings, with the ancient gnocchi as their common ancestor. In Roman times, gnocchi were made from a semolina porridge-like dough mixed with eggs, and are still found in similar forms today, particularly the oven-baked gnocchi alla romana and Sardinia‘s malloreddus (although these do not contain eggs).In ancient times there were already some varieties of gnocchi that could be found especially in Lombardia (North of Italy, regional capital Milan). These gnocchi were mixed with bread crumbs, milk and almonds. They were called Zanzarelli. In the seventeenth century, however, the original recipe underwent changes in both the composition of ingredients and in its name. It took the name of malfatti and it was added flour, water and eggs instead of almonds and bread.The origins of potato gnocchi are to be found in the period in which the potatoes were imported from the Americas to Europe. Of course, today it is the most common and appreciated variety. Potato gnocchi are particularly popular in AbruzzoFriuli-Venezia GiuliaVenetoCiociaria and other provinces of Latium. As for other mashed potato dishes they are best prepared with floury potatoes to keep a light texture. However, for each variety of dumplings existed different colors given by using particular ingredients. For example, if kneaded with beetroots and spinach, gnocchi took a characteristic green color, while, with the addition of pumpkin, the color became yellow. From 1880, the potato gnocchi began to spread like wildfire and slowly all the other varieties disappeared.While gnocchi is most commonly referred to as an Italian dish with mainly Italian origins, it is important to know the importance of the dish in other countries, namely in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. These countries had a high percentage of Italian immigrants at the start of the 20th century who brought gnocchi dishes along with them. Gnocchi became so popular here that a sort of holiday was created in its honor. This is a monthly “holiday” that occurs on the 29th day of each month, and it is called “Noquis del 29” or “Gnocchi of the 29th.” In Rome, gnocchi is a traditional dish traditionally eaten on Thursdays; following the dictum “gnocchi on Thursday, fish on Friday (or” chickpeas and salt cod “) and tripe on Saturdays.” There are still ancient hostarie and trattorie where the tradition is followed.  Well known is the Roman saying “Laugh, laugh, that mum made gnocchi” (using the “i” as an article, and not “Gli” how the Italian grammar dictates. The proverb emphasizes the importance of Thursday as an almost festive day, which requires a tasty and filling dish that anticipates the lean eating on the next day). The tradition of gnocchi varies across Italian cities. In fact, in the Campania region the traditional day for gnocchi is Sunday. In Verona, a plate of gnocchi with tomato sauce is traditionally consumed “Venàrdi Gnocolàr” which is the day of the Carnival parade. Gnoco’s Dad is the name of the main carnival mask.

* some info were taken from wikipedia uk and giallo zafferano it

Fettuccine workshop a sneak peek!

As already mentioned in one of my posts, the new Languages Alive’s workshops will be teaching how to make gnocchi and fettuccine in London. Fettuccine are widely used in Italy with funghi (mushrooms), ragu’ (sauce with meat – called Bolognese sauce in Anglo-Saxon countries) and more. Here you will see how easy is to make fettuccine, however Chef Max has given me some really useful tips to reach a perfect texture. If you want the full recipe please leave your comments and I will reply as soon as possible. The same recipe applies for pappardelle too whose picture you will find below. Now enjoy the pics and do not forget when in Italy ask for pasta con ragu’ not pasta con salsa bolognese!

Out in Nettuno with Mum

Hi folks, I hope life is treating you well. This post is all about going food shopping in Italy with my mum. Having been living in the UK for long time, it is always a delight for my eyes going to the bakeries and supermarkets when I am over there. I loved choosing tasty tomatoes, zucchine and other vegs. I also enjoyed going to the bakery to buy the best bread and pizza. If you go to Italy and you want to taste pizza on the go at very modest prices go to a bakery. You will find pizza con patate (with potatoes), pizza rossa (with tomato sauce), pizza con zucchine (with courgettes), pizza bianca (plain pizza which is amazing) and more varieties. You will also find local sweets and cakes at fair prices. It is the best choice if you are sightseeing and do not stop at a restaurant or pizzeria to have a meal. The bakery in Italian is called forno so ask Dov’e’ il forno piu’ vicino? (Where is the closest bakery?) Trust me you it will be good for your taste buds and your purse! Enjoy the pics folks. A presto!