“Sono arrivata, metti su l’acquaaaaaaaaaaaa!”
I was walking the dog at lunch break yesterday when I heard the phrase above. I turned my head and saw a lady getting out of her car and opening the front gate of her house.
She was probably addressing her husband, advising him that she was home and that it was time to prepare lunch. Well, when I heard that phrase, I said to myself: “this is quintessentially Italian!“.
But what does that phrase mean?
Literally, it means: “I am back, put the water on!”. The water is that of the pasta, of course. Here in Italy, if you say: “metti su l’acqua“, it is implicit that you are speaking of pasta. There’s no other water to put on! And most likely, there are no other things you’d have for lunch – especially if you are eating at home.
A phrase like that has a time reference in itself as well.
If I tell my husband – when he’s working in our home office – “metto su l’acqua!“, it means that he has more or less 20/30 minutes left before coming to the kitchen for lunch.
If I ask him: “metto su l’acqua?”, I mean “are you ready for lunch or do you still need time?”. If he is around running errands and calls me saying: “metti su l’acqua che arrivo“, it means that it won’t take long before he comes home.
Such a phrase is strictly related to time because we would never eat our pasta if it is not al dente – this must always be kept in mind!
There’s also another version of this phrase, which is: “butta la pasta!” or “metti giù la pasta!“. This one has a different meaning, it means putting the pasta into the boiling water. This implies that, if I say that to someone, there’s not so much time left before sitting down and eating lunch.
When I am supposed to eat lunch at my parents’ and I am late, my mother pretty frequently calls me and nervously tells me: “Arrivi? Ho buttato la pasta!!!”, quite afraid that we might end up eating overcooked pasta. To be honest, this would never happen: if I am late, I’ll surely eat cold pasta rather than an overcooked one.
So, if you live in Italy, you are going home for lunch and are quite in a hurry – or just extremely hungry – you can call home and tell them: “butta la pasta che arrivo!“. And…
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