Both the French Creole and the Italians have a word for it: “lagniappe” (French Creole) and “omaggio” (Italian) — a little something extra, complimentary, a tribute. Most commonly this refers to a merchant offering a free gift on top of what already is being purchased.
Though not an everyday occurrence, I have experienced these small offerings of generosity in Evansville and other parts of the world. Earlier this summer I traveled to Italy — Rome and Florence — with my son, his girlfriend Meghan (who had just graduated from high school), and her mother. We were in Rome only a short time before we were offered omaggio. (Don’t mistake the street hawkers at the Spanish Steps or Trevi Fountain who insist you clutch the rose being thrust at you for offerings of omaggio; they are not.)
My first taste of Italian omaggio was during “aperitivo,” a simple Italian concept, essentially a happy hour. (For the record, happy hour in bars cannot be enjoyed in Indiana; it’s one of eight states that ban specials on drinks for any period during the day.) During Italian aperitivo, in the early evening before dinner, bars offer generous bonus snacks: certainly chips and olives, but also small nibbles like bruschetta, finger sandwiches, and cheese along with your drink order. Heeding the guidance, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” we took time to celebrate aperitivo and the generous omaggio offered alongside our Aperol spritzes, Birra Peroni, and Prosecco.
We celebrated Meghan’s graduation dining at Hi-Res, a terrace restaurant atop a boutique hotel in Rome. With impeccable service, “primo” — on the house — was brought forward before we even ordered our three (or more) course meals. When we declined “dolce,” out came a tray of mini desserts – omaggio. At Coquinarius in Florence (on the occasion of Maxwell’s birthday, which due to time zone differences and our return to the U.S., he stretched to 31 hours), the restaurant owner delivered a plate of mint and fig crostini to open our meal. The gift at dinner’s conclusion? Limoncello!
Much more than free food (long gone are my college days), and even the limoncello, Italy’s culture of a little something extra impressed and inspired me. I think it is something we can work with — as individuals, businesses, and communities — as a mindset if not a literal practice. e is for Evansville; e is for everyone; e is for extra.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you!
Kristen K. Tucker
Publisher & Editor
Favorite Page Of The Issue, 25
We all know Evansville is the center of the world. And now school children in Amandola, Italy, know that, too.
“The thing that is interesting is that if you go to Amandola, Evansville is the capital of the U.S.,” resident Carol Abrams told Staff Writer Elisa Gross. “They know all of this stuff about Evansville and about Indiana.”
Gross’ story, “You’ve Got Mail,” beginning on page 22, is at its heart about how engaged individuals can change lives — and even save lives.