Monday, June 14, 2010

An Italian Barbecue

We see it depicted on televison and print all the time - the Italian family gathered together, laughing & enjoying one another's company over good food & much so that the word "Italian" has become synonymous with food, particularly pasta and pizza (good stuff!) And we credit them for and associate them, of course, with the other finer things too in life like the Ferrari (lol) and the high-end clothing (ohhh, Valentino!!!).

Kumar, myself and the kids had the wonderful privilege of experiencing all of this first-hand with a last minute invite last night by one of our very good couple-friends to their grandparent's cottage somewhere off Cornwall in Eastern Ontario. It might have been a scaled-down version of the typical dinner in the sense that it was "just a BBQ" (whatever that's supposed to mean!) and that only eleven people were present, including our couple-friend, his uncle, his parents, his maternal grandparents and us. (I can just imagine the full-house it must be when the entire clan gets together!) Nevertheless, it had all the elements and trappings of the traditional Italian supper with Uncle Joe (real name Giuseppe) slaving over the grill and the ladies busy in the kitchen prepping the salad and setting the table. Once seated before an abundant assortment of skewered meat, chicken pieces, sausages and hotdogs, salad tossed with a simple vinaigrette of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, ciabatta bread & homemade vino, we enjoyed listening to Nonno as he related both funny and interesting experiences living as a first-generation Canadian-Italian. What I found utterly cute and endearing was how Nonna got up in the middle of the meal, barely even have touched her plate to heat up some pizza for Jaden. She was worried that the little guy hadn't eaten enough even after he, in fact, had already polished two good-sized chicken drumsticks, a couple of cherry tomatoes and a slice of bread. Although, we all tried to convince her that it was completely unneccessary and that the possibility of my fifteen-month old baby starving was so remote, she insisted, and there was just no dissuading her. And as if the pizza wasn't enough, she went ahead and made some pasta with her homemade meatballs and then thinking she had somehow undermined Maya's appetite as well, went on yet again to make another batch for her whom she called the "big baby." I saw her watch anxiously to see whether the babies would have some and one should have seen how her face just lit up with pride and satisfaction when they both took a few mouthfuls. Then my friend began to cajole me into eating the rest of the pasta by telling me that Nonna would be upset and disappointed if I didn' relieved I was to know that this turned out to be a joke! I simply had no room for more food! I'm sure they must have thought, too, that Kumar and I had completely lost our minds when we declined the espresso served after. We were fully aware of the repercussions of imbibing the potent black syrup after a certain hour from past experience. We have since set our personal cut-off time to around two-o'clock in the p.m as being the absolute latest we can have espresso by, without it interfering with our sleep. But of course we eagerly munched on the fresh fruit and pannetonni and Kumar even helped himself to a few pieces of horse's milk cheese which you slice off the whole hunk as you go. A classic Italian movie was plugged in where a barbershop scene in the old country was being played out (rather animatedly by the actors!) and more conversation ensued, with Kumar and our friend exchanging bespoke tailoring notes over some more of Nonno's wine....

And then it was time to go. We profusely thanked our hosts who had outdone themselves for their warm hospitality to which they responded with bear hugs and enthusiastic air kisses or baci's on both cheeks and then we bade them goodbye. On our way home in the car, we recounted the amazing time we had. And then I offered up a silent prayer, thanking God for the gift of genuine friends and for the five senses we possess that enable one to enjoy the diversity and variety in all things - also from Him - which truly is, the spice of life.

1 comment:

  1. I can picture that seen so clearly in my mind and I wish I had been there...yuuuuuuuuuum
    nonna can make me anything anytime..I love italian mommas!