Tag Archives: Italian-Australian

Small moments of beauty

Granny Maddalena harvesting from her vegie garden before going inside to cook for all the family. Sometimes it’s the simplest things…

#worldkindessday

 

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the “good” cabinet….

The “good” cabinet – filled with items only to be used for special guests, certainly never for family. These were Nanna Francesca’s modest, glass-fronted cabinets of hi-ball glasses, espresso cups, coffee pots and bonbonniere of figurines and sugared almonds (left) in the late 60s and (right) in the early 70s with me, Mum and Nanna Francesca (same Christmas tree).

By then, my grandparents had an additional “good” cabinet and covered the VJ walls of their Queenslander house in fibro sheets painted with white, high-gloss for a “fresh, clean look” (p.6 Mezza Italiana).

And yes, this was the era of the plastic hallway runner over the carpet. What I’d give to be able to see it all again! The cabinets themselves were lost in Brisbane’s 2011 flood but below right are some items from them I managed to salvage beforehand (they don’t look Italian at all?!!) haha. And the same clock now sits in my living room. Something nice about seeing it each day knowing it was in my grandparents’ living room all those years.

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from Abruzzo to Australia…

Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar continues each weeknight on ABC Nightlife – thank you to all who’ve sent messages upon discovering the book – lovely to hear from you!

By chance, I came across this photograph when looking for something else for the next book and realised it might be the only one to show the family unit of Maddalena and Vitale and their two sons Elia (left) and Annibale/Joe (right) taken not long after they were reunited in Australia.

Financial hardship, separate migration, the Depression and WW2 forced Vitale and Maddalena apart for all but about three of their first 26 years of marriage, the boys without their father, and then Maddalena and Annibale apart for a decade after he migrated at 15. So lovely to see them reunited here. They remained close for the rest of their lives in Australia with Maddalena and Vitale even living with Annibale and his family for many years.

 

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a little bit of mezza Italiana/Australiana…

Came across this little bit of ‘mezza Italiana/Australiana’ at the beach on the weekend… a surf rescue boat emblazoned with the word, Arancia (orange). I realise it’s a NZ brand name but for some reason it just felt great to see this Italian word on something such a part of Australian life in beach and flood rescues.

Recently, I heard a radio discussion about foreign languages currently taught in Australian schools. Of the six languages most commonly learnt, apparently Japanese is the most popular followed by Italian, Indonesian, French, German and Mandarin, each being classified as business or heritage. They said, Italian is a heritage language taught due to the contribution of its large migrant community and their descendants over the past century or more. Pretty lovely to hear.

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Old pictures and pikelets…

Nanna Francesca’s birth date is today, the 12th, though her birth certificate states February 19th due to its delayed lodging as her parents fought over naming her after their mothers. Tradition prevailed. She was named for her paternal Nonna in possibly the only argument won by the usually quiet, laid-back, Domenico over my grandmother’s maternal side, the indomitable Carrozza women (short, stout and strong).

This photograph was taken on Nanna Francesca’s birthday 40 years ago at my parents’ Red Hill house. It was the era when I’d often stay over at my grandparents’ place and Nanna Francesca took me to the ‘pictures’, as she called it, and afterwards lunch at the Coles cafeteria where I mostly had hot chips in a cardboard cup then pikelets. Of course, being a kid, I took it all for granted then, but am so grateful now to look back on those times and for the time she gave me.
Buon compleanno, Nanna Francesca. xxx

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Christmas shopping…

Christmas shoppingCouldn’t resist taking a quick picture of these Italian products I saw as part of a Christmas display in the general supermarket of a country town in Australia. And both northern and southern Italy represented!

There was once a time when it was unusual to see even a panettone in the supermarket of an Australian capital city let alone a smaller town. So lovely how food can quietly keep on bringing different cultures together!

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Mini ‘tomato day’…

mini tomato dayWhen I came across cherry tomatoes selling cheap a little while back, I couldn’t resist. This was my mini ‘tomato day’, well, couple of hours, not with all the family but just me, and not to make passata but to make ‘sun-dried’ cherry tomatoes.

A little olive oil and smoked salt, a couple of hours in a very slow oven and once cooled they were ready to put into jars drizzled in more olive oil to preserve them (not that they lasted too long!)

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Italian Australian Easter…

Brisbane News articleWith Easter coming up, I was asked about my Italian family’s gatherings for part of an article in the latest issue of Brisbane News. In the photograph, I have in front of me a Colomba di Pasqua, an Easter dove cake similar to the Italian Christmas panettone.

I also fondly recall Nanna Francesca making Pane di Pasqua, Easter bread, with whole eggs in their shells tucked among the plaited dough (the eggs became like hardboiled as the dough baked).

By the way, to the left in the photo is her Sunflower coffee set, which I treasure. It is now almost 70 years old!
Buona Pasqua!

 

{Click on article for a larger version.}

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Backyard harvest…

grape harvestFrom the Isabella vine that grows over the pergola, some of the grapes harvested this year (in one of Nanna Francesca’s salad bowls circa 1960s/70s.) Each year the grapevine yields enough to make about half a dozen bottles of wine…a modest, homemade vintage but a tiny bit of Italy in an Australian suburban backyard.

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‘Sali e Tabacchi’…

sali e tabacchiThis sign might be familiar to those who have bought a bus or lottery ticket, tobacco or, until recent years, salt in Italy. Yes, the traditional ‘Sali e Tabacchi’ or ‘Salt and Tobacco’ shop was for a long time the only place to buy salt while it remained a monopoly of the state, (a nod perhaps to ancient times when salt was worth as much as gold!)

However, we took this photo in Australia, not Italy, after spotting the sign hidden along a Melbourne laneway. Another little bit of Italy in the hearts of those in Australia. Looking forward to heading back to Melbourne again in March!

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the old macaroni factory…

Macaroni factoryThe Lucini macaroni factory (circa 1859) is said to be the oldest building in Australia built by Italian-Australians. There are 150-year-old frescoes inside that unfortunately remained hidden as it was closed the day we came by. Sitting in the main street of Hepburn Springs in Victoria, the building was also the location for Jan Sardi’s film, Love’s Brother, about two Italian brothers in Australia and a proxy marriage to a girl in Italy.
Macaroni factory 2

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Homemade arancini with ragù alla Bolognese…

homemade aranciniIt is claimed that arancini originated in Sicily as far back as the 10th century. The balls of rice with various fillings are shaped, crumbed and fried, resembling an orange – the Italian for orange being arancia. (Rice cooked the day before and cooled in the fridge works best.) In Messina, they can be more cone shaped, while in Naples they are pall’e riso (rice balls) apparently. I think ours (made 11 centuries later in Australia!) ended up being influenced a little by both cities.

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Maremma sheepdogs and penguins…

Abruzzo postcard picturing Maremma SheepdogThe Maremma Sheepdog is indigenous to central Italy, particularly Abruzzo and the Maremma area in Tuscany and Lazio, and has been used for centuries by Italian shepherds to guard sheep from wolves.

Recently I discovered a project in Australia where Maremma Sheepdogs are protecting a penguin colony almost decimated by foxes, and under their protection the penguins are increasing in numbers. {The dogs also guard free-range chickens.} A little mezza italiana/ australiana perhaps.

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Coffee beans drying in the sun…

Next step in the coffee process – the beans (or seeds) from inside the coffee cherries have been washed and are now drying.

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Roasted chestnuts….

Autumn means chestnuts, castagne and I always think of my Italian grandfather, Nonno Anni whenever we roast them. In the Abruzzo in the 1930s, Nonno Anni harvested chestnuts beneath Gran Sasso, later taking them to turn to flour at the stone mill with the wooden water wheel on the canal below his village of Fossa.

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