March 3, 2010 in Uncategorized
Good evening my dear friends, how i have missed you all and your generous words of encouragement. This year began with the most beautiful fireworks display on 31st December at the Wild Coast Sun - and let me tell you – them crackers are still going off in my world. January 13th saw my poor husband under the knife in a 7 hours operation to fix his broken heart – I cannot actually describe the depths of my fear as I could do absolutely nothing to alter the outcome of the operation he had – this rather frightening challenge was followed by the passing of my dear mother in law a.k.a Nonna Lilly from this world to the next. We lay her gently to rest with her beloved Toto last week.
I have been up to my eye balls in Italians – food – hospitals - food and a funeral which, of course, means - LOTS MORE FOOD .. and a wounded group of wonderful Italians, who – to cope with the loss of their dear mother – grandmother – great grandmother and great great grandmother - (sounds like a movie doesn’t it) needed to cling to each other for comfort whilst eating lots and lots of pasta.
Pasta – for my group of Italians – and I would venture to say, ALL groups of Italians - is the glue that keeps them together. When babies are born – and christened in their beautiful pristine white gowns - italians eat pasta – when the babies grow and receive Holy Communion for the first momentous time, all decked out in their pretty white veils and in the case of my boys – their handsome white outfits – they eat pasta – 16, 18 and 21st birthdays follow soon afterwards - all blessed with loads more pasta – and weddings are positively drowning in huge trays of canneloni or lasagne and white wedding dresses. Quite literally, pasta can neither be separated nor excluded from “The Bread of Life” and its’ symbolism so deeply deeply ingrained into the very fabric of any Italians soul.
Nonna Lilly - our queen of the kitchen and indeed “queen of life” in general, gently slipped away from us in her sleep in Entabeni hospital on the 18th February 2010. This is the amazing and inspiring cook, that I have spoken of in so many of my posts, who made Vitello Tonnato in the Form of a clock – the hands of which were crafted in black truffle! When I met my husband – every Thursday evening I would catch the bus from central Durban – where I worked – to their home on the shady cool palmed Berea, upon my arrival i would be ushered into the kitchen to learn how to cook. I absolutely loved and cherished every single moment that i spent with her in that tiny little lovely kitchen.
Nonna did not just teach me how to cook countless italian dishes – each one better than the last – she taught me about food – pairing food - loving food – and gave me the knowledge of how and why we cook in the ways that we do – the understanding of using food to express love – loyalty and healing - how to get home from a long day at work, cook a three course meal fit for kings and queens, lay a formal dinner table, present and serve that wonderful food without even breaking a sweat – and she taught me the joy of sharing your food with love. Until I met my husband and his amazing mum – food, really only represented something perfunctory that happened 2 or 3 times a day. My dear English mum’s version of pasta sauce contained mixed vegetables- those little coloured square cubes that we are led to believe grew out of the ground at some point.
The whole Tripepi family and many other mourners gathered to celebrate the life of our dear Mamma at my home. There were many people – family and friends who came together to pay their respects to Signora Tripepi - a lady of elegance and standing in the Durban Italian community. She, together with her dear husband Salvatore Tripepi, created a dynasty. At the time of her passing – Lilliana Tripepi was a living 5th generation – octegnarian. At 89 years of age – she was still beautiful and elegant and adoring of her great great grand daughter, Sophia.
And the food – well, I ordered mountains of hot snacks from Steven @ The G-Spot, which were delicious and received many complements – Thank You Steven darling …………. I chose to serve only two sandwiches. Coronation Chicken Sandwiches (good enough for Queen Elizabeths Coronation! good enough for our queen nonna Lilly) and Prawn mayonnaise sandwiches – a favourite of Nonna’s. Puckety’s in Underberg provided us with the best Carrot Cake that South Africa has to offer and ……. as evening fell, when only her children and grandchildren remained – we ate pasta. Lots and lots and lots of wonderful healing, comforting pasta. And we were all happy again.
It’s good to be back.