This past Easter weekend, I was invited up to Elora’s in-laws in Montalto, Ligure. I had been here once before with a small group of friends but this time felt more special because it was Easter holiday and I was included in the festivities like a favourite cousin 🙂
Mama is a city girl mostly and so my exposure to family gatherings and food have had more of a modern feeling, but Andrea’s parents are what I call the “real deal” (any household of 2, that buys a 5 kilo bag of flour has got to be serious about their food!). They’re the traditional Italian family, who grow their own food, and raise their own livestock. They preserve peaches, harvest olives, and make their own pasta. Who knew, that after spending 150 Euros for a cooking class in Tuscany, all I really needed to do was hang out for a few days with Andrea’s mom!
She showed me how to make Gnocchetti and Tagliatelli. What great fun! Now, if I can just get her to share her recipes for Russian salad and veggie pie…heeheehee. I yearn to have a wood oven in the house, perhaps one day we can build one in Portofino. There’s nothing like it. So, needless to say, I was fed to the gills for two days and loved every minute of it!
When the sun finally appeared on Easter Sunday, we all hiked over to the farm by the river. We fed the rabbits and pet the chickens. Have you ever pet a chicken before? They’re really soft. There was also a new litter of rabbits, how exciting. You could barely see them snuggled in a corner den under a soft pillow of rabbit fur. I was able to get a great photo of one of the babies sleeping.
Andrea also did a short video of us making the pasta…the secret was in the flick of your thumb and an Italian expression.
Step 1: take little ball of cut dough
Step 2: place ball on wooden board with grooves
Step 3: roll your thumb across the ball with a slight pressure
Step 4: say “cosi” and let the little ball roll onto the platter dusted with flour
This experience was most enjoyable simply for the fact that I was with good friends, and had the warm hospitality of Elora’s in-laws. Since I moved to Italy five years ago, it has never occurred to me until this weekend how important it is to also be involved in the process of preparing a special meal as much as it is to eat it all. In my husband’s family, I have never really been included in the process of preparation. Sure, I have always baked a cake or brought some special Canadian dish for all to enjoy, but what I really missed was the warmth of getting up to your elbows in flour and feeling like an integral part of the celebration.
I feel blessed to have great friends whose families open their homes to me, the little Easter orphan. And even though I am still not able to fully communicate my gratitude in Italian, sharing warmed peaches for breakfast with Andrea’s dad was a special treat and seeing his warm smile every time I said “molto buona” warmed my heart. When can I move in?
By the way…I wasn’t completely abandoned on Easter. Mama prepared a special meal for ‘Pasquetta” which is “little Easter Monday”. So, for three days I was watered and fed with such gusto that I doubt my jeans will fit me for at least a week!