Sometime in the year 2000 I was sitting in a cinema with husband #1 (not Mr Travelling Pantaloni) watching ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ and two things struck me:
1) I’ll never feel that rush of new love again, and
2) I really must get myself invited to a tomato passata making day
Fast forward to 2016 and although I had felt the rush of new love with Mr Travelling Pantaloni, I STILL hadn’t been invited to a passata making day, despite being married to an Italian.
Mr TP’s family stopped doing them years ago but my sister-in-law’s family does the occasional one. I’ve been bugging her for years about it and finally this year, after a hiatus of six years, they decided to put the ‘factory’ back into operation, and just like that I was in! My instructions: turn up at 6am and wear old clothes.
Growing up in an Anglo-Aussie household we had no such traditions. None. So I was practically wetting my pantaloni at the excitement of it all, but confusingly almost everyone else (i.e. all the Italians) were dragged there kicking and screaming ….
And so we met at Nonna’s house early on a rainy Saturday morning a few weeks ago for ‘operation tomato passata’.
30 cases of tomatoes had been purchased, the equipment had been dragged out of the garage, the tomato cutting station had been set up, and we were ready to go!
With a bit of instruction from the old hands I took my seat and started to cut and squeeze the tomatoes. So many tomatoes!
Everyone gets roped in, and everyone had a job, even the kids.
It was loads of fun, and even though I’m not part of their family (although I think they have kind of adopted me) it was easy to feel the sense of family, and feel the connection they have with each other.
What I really loved about it was being part of something – particularly being part of something that had been going on (probably in much the same way) for generations.
Most there have Sicilian roots, but there were a couple of Calabrese thrown in and it seems every family has their own recipe and their own way of doing things, although while there they were happy to do it Nonna’s way.
This tomato cutting business is harder than it looks. Not difficult in a technical sense just hard on your hands. I think it’s all the squeezing that did it.
Once the first fifteen boxes of tomatoes were cut, we tomato-cutters had a break while those on the ‘squishing machine’ (I didn’t find out what it’s called) caught up. I then had a go at everything else that was going on …
Filling the bottles
Thanks for inviting me along – see you next year!
Does your family have an annual passata making day? Do you enjoy it?
Until next time, safe travels,
The Travelling Pantaloni