Making decisions is a part of life. Some are easy and we might not even give them much thought. For instance, regarding food, we pretty much know what we like or don’t like. Am I right? But when it comes to trying out new food some of us aren’t that adventurous and can baulk at the thought. Over the years, I’ve succeeded in coaching (!) my Scottish husband to try new tastes … have a look at the scrumptious goodies we enjoyed on New Year’s Day for lunch and afternoon tea!
In Ciao We’re in Africa, my mum was newly married, in a foreign country, and she didn’t speak a word of English. Further, the joyousness that Italians had always celebrated in preparing and sharing food had been dealt a decisive blow in the preceding (WW2) war years and took a while to flourish again. Her mother and grandmother had become cautious and frugal after the war and did not pass on cooking techniques or that sense of a tavola that is so intrinsic in the Italian culture.
Now, in a new life in Africa, in 1955, making decisions on her own was something Iucci (Maria) had to come to terms with … even as basic as preparing their meals and running the household. All whilst acclimatising to a new country, culture, and being an important part of their new business!
An excerpt from the book, Ciao We’re in Africa:
Tonight, I’ve found a nice piece of fillet steak to go with some boiled potatoes and spinach on the side. I hear Bambi barking a welcome and know that Eugenio has arrived home.
He enters the kitchen and hands me a brown bag. “Mele. Apples. From a customer in the shop. Apparently, we can even make jam with them.”
“Jam? I don’t think so. I’ll have them for lunch over the next few days.”
“What about adding the apples to that dish you’re making. What is it?”
“It’s a steak! Apples will not be a good accompaniment!” I flap a dish towel at him. “Wash your hands and dinner’s just about ready.”
I proudly dish up the meal and stop Bambi from jumping up and down. She’s certain the steak is something to be shared.
“No!” I mutter to Eugenio as he feeds a piece of the fillet to Bambi from his plate. “It’s beef fillet, Eugenio! It’s expensive.”
“Povera cagnolina. Poor little dog. She’s begging me with her eyes.”
I just shake my head at him. He really is such a softie but it’s fillet after all and I hate food waste of any kind!
I smile when I read that because, in later years, as a teenager, my parents held fabulous three-course meal lunch parties with at least ten guests … and the food was extraordinary and very Italian flavoured. Perhaps Mamma’s cooking talent was always there or, as part of her ‘making decisions’ repertoire, might she have intentionally chosen to learn and perfect recipes that respected her culture and tasted and smelt like home?
In a broader sense though, making decisions is a part of life. For us and as being responsible parents, we need to teach our young ones the technique of looking at the pros and cons and then, following through. Second-guessing wastes time and causes angst. Although, of course, sometimes we just might not have thought of extenuating circumstances and so, we might have to be flexible when making decisions.
You've made a decision to humour me and read all of the above and, I thank you for that! I hope that whatever decisions you make you follow your heart and your mind so that you can stand by that in the future.