Today was awesome.
For me there is something so emotionally heartwarming when an Italian thinks that I am also Italian. I have felt like this since I was a Uni student and worked in Sassi’s Italian bistro in Carlton, Melbourne. It possibly at that time had more to do with his swarthy son who I worked alongside but the experience there had me hooked on the food and the passion of the Italian famille.
I felt like I belonged.
Like Italy was inside me.
I was determined that I would get to Italy and learn the language and eat the food. And I did. It was a mission and I completed it. The only issue was that having now lived in South East Asia, and having studied Indonesian for many years, I have a jumbled brain of language. I speak Italian and it comes out in unromantic phrases littered with school style French, Indonesian and Italian combined. It is confusing for all and frustrating for me.
Today, I wandered into Sabato in Mt Eden. It’s small and packed full of Italian produce. It’s a favourite spot if I’m cooking Italian as it offers so much inspiration. As I perused the larder I caught a conversation in Italian to my left – with my favourite verb Mangiare – to eat. I smiled over to the gorgeous Italian Mama, who instantly thought I was Italian. See, I love that. I have no idea why but to be Italian appeals hugely. It is a romantic notion and one horribly quashed today when I went numb with fear over my poor command of a language I love. But, her son Mario came to the rescue with his English translation and we laughed and spoke food and love and Italy, as if we were friends. She was shopping for carbonara ingredients and was clutching prosciutto lardons, the perfect base ingredient. I was indulgently buying up pizza and panini ingredients which had us debating the best pizza bases in town. For 20 minutes I was transported and I loved it.
It was the inspiration for my Saturday lunch. A layered panini of avocado, ripe tomato, sea salt, prosciutto, salami and chorizo, buffalo mozzarella, basil leaves and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. The kids called it a cheeky Italian sandwich – it was perfetto!!