BY MATTHEA BELTRAME
Italian culture has always been a big part of my life.
We are known for being loud, lively, dark haired, and most of all, we cook amazing food.
My Italian grandmother, who we call “Nonna,” is the last of our family who actually grew up and immigrated to Canada from Salvarosa, Italy at age 21.
I’ve always loved going over to Nonna’s house. She always has something to eat ready and waiting for any fortunate vagrant.
Feeding people makes Nonna the happiest. She loves watching people’s faces light up when they taste her food. Everything she makes tastes amazing, but nothing is as good as her famous homemade lasagna. Everyone knows about Nonna’s lasagna; it is a culinary wonder.
One day in December 2017, Nonna came over to stay with us for a few days. I couldn’t wait. My parents were going away for their anniversary and they left early that morning. We made sure that the kitchen was ready for Nonna ahead of time because she promised that she would make her lasagna with us.
Nonna arrived after lunch and we greeted her with a hug on the doorstep.
The kitchen was waiting for us. Sunlight was pouring in through the big window, and a pot of coffee that I had made was sitting on the counter.
We set up Nonna’s pasta machine. It was imported from Italy and Nonna lifted it lovingly from the orange box in which she kept it.
I told Nonna I wanted to write down the recipe and she said in her thick Italian accent that it was all about the experience, not just about following the recipe.
We began by making the pasta and spent what seemed like ages rolling the noodles through the machine and setting the noodles to dry on the dining room table. While they were drying we made the meat sauce, grated the cheese, and put the water pot on to boil.
Laughing at Your Mistakes
The more we worked, the bigger mess we made. Flour rained down from the counters, eggs were smashed on the floor, and pots and pans littered our working space until we had no room left.
When we had a moment to spare we stepped backed and looked at the kitchen. My brother and I looked at Nonna. She was laughing!
“What’s so funny Nonna?” we asked.
“Look-a the big mess-a we make!” she exclaimed, smiling.
Nonna has taught me many things, but the most important lesson she has taught me is that disasters and mishaps are a part of life, and if you respond to them with a positive attitude they can make life more interesting.
Life is messy, and you will make mistakes. What really matters is how you choose to respond to them.
I choose to laugh; it’s an Italian thing.