Some stereotypes in this world are so accurate you can’t ignore them. One of them is the whole ‘offending your Nonna if you don’t accept whatever food she is offering’ thing. She will take it personally. And she will hold it against you.
The fact is, an Italian Nonna will almost always over cater (it is an Italian’s worst nightmare to under cater). Example – you go over to her house for a casual family dinner for five. She cooks for twenty. (At first I thought perhaps my Nonna was just bad at maths, but I have seen this woman calculate percentages on anything marked ‘sale’ faster than Rainman).
So, inevitably, when dinner is done, there always are leftovers. And you better take them home or so help you. ‘What?! You didn’t like it?’ Nonna will exclaim with an accusatory tone if any leftovers are declined. ‘Oh I see, you want to eat fancy stuff at work instead? Have you been eating? You look skinny. You need to eat more.’ Next thing you know, she’s squeezing every last pasta spiral into recycled plastic ricotta containers she’s had since 1996.
This scene is not unusual, and is typical of many Australian-Italian families. Nonnas love to cook and they love to feed, potentially more than they like to watch The Bold and the Beautiful, but I can’t be sure. This is where my love of cooking started, with my Nonna. I spent every school holidays at her house (Italian families rarely have need for an actual paid ‘babysitter’) and every day I would help her in the kitchen. This Tasty Tuesday series is inspired by Nonna Corso’s favourite dishes, and how she taught me to make them.
To kick things off we thought we should start with a dish dedicated to my favourite ‘C’ word – carbs. This is your typical weeknight pasta dish with a rich red sauce (that can also be used as a base for variety of other dishes) and tasty homemade meatballs. In this recipe I have used Fusilli pasta, which is one of my Nonna’s favourite pastas from her region of Calabria, however you can improvise with any pasta of your choice. For the meatballs you can switch up the meat if you like, but the classic combo is 50/50 veal and pork mince. It’s best served with some bread, too, because nothing says Italian cuisine more than some carb on carb action.
Nonna Corso’s Calabrese Fusilli with Meatballs! Recipe – Concetta Corso with Lisa Marie Corso. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull.
Ingredients for Nonna Corso’s Calabrese Fusilli with Meatballs. Recipe – Concetta Corso with Lisa Marie Corso. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files. Styling assistant – Nat Turnbull.
Nonna Corso’s Calabrese Fusilli with meatballs. Recipe – Concetta Corso with Lisa Marie Corso. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull.