Nonna, what are we eating today?
On a usual Saturday morning in my teens, Nonna was up early, making home made pasta. My Nonna, Delia, lived with us, and as a young girl my memories of her circle around food.
Her specialty was ciriole, a hand-made thick, spaghetti-like pasta. Lunch at the table was a big deal for our family. As my mum and dad went to work in the restaurant most afternoons, lunch was our ‘family time’.
I’d come down the stairs at home of a morning and the first smell was of the coffee ; the second was the smell of the fresh dough.
“Buongiorno” I’d say and give Nonna a kiss. As I ate my breakfast I’d watch her knead the dough with ease and grace. She was a small, solid woman and yet she moved with ease.
As she worked the dough by hand, she’d tell me stories and I’d be mesmerised by her every move. She was so focused on the task at hand. She’d cut the dough into small balls and roll each one into individual hand-made ciriole. They were long, fat, solid spaghetti and made from water and flour and could only be made by hand.
The tomato pasta sugo would be cooking on stove, and the smell wafting through the house was out of this world. I always woke to the smell of lunch in our home; never breakfast. As I sat at that bench the morning would drift by. Dad would fly in for a moment for his 6th espresso and brush past me with a kiss. Mum would be moving through the house, busily doing chores and yelling at dad, “Franco, enough with the coffee.”
It was noisy, but it was my world. For me it was peaceful. I was a teenager immersed in our Italian chaos.
There was no place like it.
I wanted to be here.
This was home.
This was where I belonged.
Lunch was always so heartfelt. We’d talk Italian – always over the top of each other. Dad would drink a wine or two with lunch, and then melt into the couch for his routine siesta. Nonna would disappear and hide in the toilet, stealing a quiet moment for a sneaky cigarette, so no-one knew she was still smoking, and my siblings and I would clean the kitchen with mum.
And then, there was just silence. The house fell quiet and with a full belly and heart, we’d all settle into the rest of our afternoon.
My Dad and Nonna passed away many years ago, and this story and memory brings me great comfort and lights my soul. I miss them so much. My heart aches for my dad often. I wonder if he’s still enjoying coffee, home-made pasta and soccer as much as he did here on planet earth with us.
I am so thankful for these strong memories and delighted to share them here with you.
It’s these moments in life that truly matter! It’s these memories that we can breathe deep into our hearts and relive over and over again.