My husband and I are having our first child this winter and I am stressing about names. My husband's last name is very Italian, filled with lots of M's and r's and syllables. Many of my longtime favorite names for girls (Zara, Cecelia) are either filled with those same letters or sound too long and cumbersome when combined with the last name. Any advice?


Okay, well, part of the fun here was trying to think of what your husband’s name might be. I was all “Mastrangelo, Mirrazzolo?” And then I realized that of course his name must be Mozzarella. (*Note: I sincerely doubt the letterwriter is married to a man called Mozzarella. But maybe.)

So the thing is, I’m not sure if you have as much of a problem as you think you do. For example, imagine if you went away from the kinds of names you’re talking about. Suppose you aim way away from lots of vowels and syllables and go with, like, Bryn. Bryn Mozzarella. There’s nothing wrong with the name, but maybe it’s lacking a kind of flow?

Zara Mozzarella, on the other hand, has a rhythm and a tone and the accents hit on different beats, which I think is totally great. CeCILia MozzaRELla. I love it. By contrast, something short is, you know, short. It’s not that it doesn’t work – Kate Mozzarella, Lenore Mozzarella, Gaetane Mozzarella – but there’s not necessarily a continuum between one and the next. Whereas Valeria Mozzarella – sure! Anthea Mozzarella, Calandra Mozzarella – I buy it.

You also don’t have to limit yourself to ‘a’ names. Elodie Mozzarella, Yvette Mozzarella, Hermione Mozzarella, if you’re feeling particularly whimsical and literary.

I’m not blowing smoke here, I think the sky’s the limit, though I am privately glad that this last name prevents you from going for things such as ‘Maddie’. Even though I’m sure you never would.