Learning a new Italian word is always fun, but learning one that even the Maritino himself does not know is exciting indeed. The fact that this occurred just in time for Thanksgiving made me particularly grateful.
So, without further ado, I give you...
And before you think I just have a bad cold and can't pronounce my Ps at the moment, I am not talking about a patata (potato) but something much, much yummier.
The sweet potato. What Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without it? Since I humbly volunteer every year to provide the sweet potatoes for my autumnal expat-family feast (i.e. I tell everyone else they'd better not even think about making them, that they are my specialty), it may seem odd that by my 8th Roman Thanksgiving meal, I still hadn't come across this term. (Apparently, like parannanza, it is not a word that gets thrown around right and left.)
I generally wander into my local fruit stand a few days before Thanksgiving mumbling something about patate dolci and il giorno del ringraziamento. Living in Trastevere has its benefits, and one is that the green grocers and specialty stores stock Thanksgiving products this time of year, as if by magic.
But this year, with an exceptionally busy week (we don't get days off for Thanksgiving over here, unfortunately), I was short on time to do my shopping and stopped by the organic store across the street from my aparment, just on the off chance they might have some last-minute sweet potatoes.
Not only did they have the most strangely shaped (and, as it turns out, delicious) sweet potatoes I have ever respectively seen and eaten, I also noted their charming little name on the sign beside them. Batate. When, just a short time later as I was roasting them up, the Maritino asked me what that heavenly smell was (or at least, that is how I choose to recall the moment), I informed him proudly:
Sto preparando le batate!!
Che cosa sono le batate??!!
(I don't really think this dialogue requires a translation, do you?)
He didn't want to admit at first that I knew a word that he didn't. In fact, he playfully insisted that there was no such thing. I had to drag out the giant Devoti Italian-Italian dictionary, but eventually he gave in. I mean, you can't argue with Devoti. Since in the paragraph-long description, it states that batate are also known as patate dolci (literally sweet potatoes) or patate americane (American potatoes), somehow this has become my new nickname.