Remembering Louise Pergolini Tucker

Louise Pergolini the graduate nurse in 1945

Tomorrow, the 10th of April will be seven years since we lost our mother Louise and I know we all think of her daily. More often than not I think of her in the kitchen. The place where she prepared so many meals for her six children and anyone we brought home with us. The room with a table around which 12 people could sit comfortably. Where there was always a light on and a chance to talk about your day.

Today, the day before what would have also been her 88th birthday, my husband decided to cook one of my mother’s favourite dishes in her honour. The dish she always ordered when it was available. A dish that spoke volumes of her Italian heritage – spaghetti con cozze.

The mussels Andrew cooked came from a farm in Port Lincoln here in South Australia. They were big and juicy and oh so fresh. Quickly cooked with some parsley, garlic, fresh tomato and white wine. Simple and tasty. Louise on a plate.

Buon appetito.

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Pizza fatta in casa ~ Fleurieu Style


Da tre anni sto studiando italiano con lo stesso gruppo e la stessa insegnante. Di tanto in tanto diversi membri del gruppo si riuniscono socialmente. L’ultima di queste riunioni è stata alla casa di campagna della compagna di banco Maura e suo marito Vic. La loro casa di compagna si trova nella splendida penisola di Fleurieu, a circa un’ora a sud dalla città di Adelaide. Maura e Vic hanno avuto un forno a legna costruito sulla loro proprietà, e siamo stati invitati per il più iconico dei piatti della cucina italiana, la pizza.

Il viaggio verso la proprietà è molto bello in una giornata invernale. Le colline, normalmente asciutte, ora sono verdi dopo le piogge consistenti nelle ultime settimane. Gli animali sono in abbondanza sulle strade: canguri, mucche, alpaca, pecore, anatre, oche e una profusione di uccelli nativi. Abbiamo superato un cartello stradale per i koala e sicuramente erano fra gli alberi, mentre passavamo di là.

Si, guarda da vicino, ci sono canguri...
Si, guarda da vicino, ci sono canguri…

Quando siamo arrivati la pasta si era già stata allievitata, e il forno a legna era già acceso. Maura ha iniziato a stendere la pasta per le pizze, poi ha messo i condimenti su. Vic ha cotto le pizze al forno. E noi abbiamo apprezzato le pizze che ha risultato.

Il pomeriggio si è concluso con un recital musicale; Vic ha tirato fuori la fisarmonica e ha suonato qualche melodia. Poì Nick, il marito di Nicoletta, ha dimostrato anche le sue abilità con la fisarmonica. Siamo abbastanza sicuri che abbiamo intraveduto un luccichio negli occhi di Nicoletta mentre guardava il marito carezzando le chiavi di madre-perla …

Insomma, è stata una giornata stupenda con gli amici, il cibo, il vino e la musica.

Homemade Pizza ~ Fleurieu Style

Perfect Pizza

For three years now I have been studying Italian with the same group of people and the same teacher. From time to time different members of the group get together socially. The latest such gathering was at the country house of fellow student Maura and her husband Vic. The property is on the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula, about an hour south of Adelaide city. Maura and Vic have had a wood-burning oven built on their property, and we were invited for that most-iconic of italian meals, pizza.

The drive to the property is beautiful on a winter day. The normally dry hills are now green after some substantial rains over the last weeks. Animals are in abundance on the back roads: kangaroos, cows, alpacas, sheep, ducks, geese and a profusion of native birds. We passed signs for koalas and surely they were up in the trees as we zoomed past.

Yes, look closely, there are kangaroos...
Yes, look closely, there are kangaroos…

When we arrived the dough was rising and the wood oven was fired up. Maura began rolling out the pizza bases, Vic cooked the pizzas and we all enjoyed them enormously.

The afternoon finished with Vic bringing out his piano accordion and playing a few tunes. Another classmate’s husband Nick also displayed his playing skills. We’re pretty sure we saw a glint in wife Nicoletta’s eye as she watched her long-time husband  caress the mother-of-pearl keys…

Altre Voci – una recensione

Il mio collega da Yoga, Leandro Salomone è un artista. Nelle sue opere si utilizzano oggetti che si trovano nella vita quotidiana, come fibre naturali, metalli, pittura, legna o altre cose. Sabato siamo andati a vedere la sua mostra in corso.

Come la maggiore parte delle sue opere, quella mostra, si chiama ‘Altre voci’, è una raccolta di oggetti utilitari. In questo caso gli oggetti sono assi di legno, che si riferiscono a come “tavole”.

La mostra occupa due sale. Nella prima sala si può leggere la storia di ogni uomo di cui tavola è esposto; ci sono pittori, muratori, carpentieri e altri ancora. Ogni storia è dolceamaro, e si capisce che descrive una patria perduta, ma una vita produttiva e felice trovata in questa terra nuova.

Quando si entra nella seconda sala si è colpiti dal posizionamento e dalla diversità delle tavole;  alcuni sono lunghe e larghe, altri ben stagionate e con molte gocce colorate di vernice, ognuno si era imbevuto della storia del proprietario. Tutto si fa aiutare dall’illuminazione efficace.

L’installazione si crea uno spazio per contemplare ogni oggetto e racimolare le storie segrete, reali o immaginate.

In somma, vi consiglio di vedere questa mostra, subito.

La mostra è a la AEAF (Australian Experimental Art Foundation) Lion Arts Centre  da 20 Ottobre

P.S. This piece was written for a class assignment to practice use of the ‘Si Impersonale’. It is an unedited  review. I am a student of Italian and not a native speaker. I apologise for any errors.  Corrections welcome.

Annual year-end review of books on the night stand

Another year is nearly over and the rotating door for books that is my night stand is sporting a lovely and mostly new crop.  A few of them are travel guides recently borrowed from the library and some of them were on the night stand last year, but are at least started. Some from last year’s list were never read but instead moved to the ‘maybe next year’ pile on the bookshelf. And others still are purely for reference and have ben returned to their place in the cabinet.

Those in the ‘maybe next year’ pile have no inherent faults. It’s just that some books need to be saved for the right occasion, like reading on long airplane trips.  Such books need to be not too big to carry around on a trip of 4 or more weeks, but big enough to last the holiday. If, like me, you like to catch up on the year’s films while on a long flight, a moderately long book is sufficient even for the gruelling 12 and 14 hour trips from Australia to North America or Europe. And if, like me again,  you don’t have holidays where you sit around by the pool in a lounge chair reading books, but instead walk for several hours a day and just want to close your eyes and put your feet up when you get back at night, you’ll know that outside of planes and airports, not a lot of leisure reading actually gets done. My on-ground reading tends to be of the travel boos and local information guide variety.

Really big books like Barbara Kingsolver’s La Lacuna (512 pages) need to be savoured over time.  I needed to have a few days break and go back a page or two to catch up and really understand where I had left off while reading this one. It was worth the effort and a very enjoyable and thought-provoking read.

Smaller books like the Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines (293 pages) are good for reading on the tram or bus to work as they can be chucked into the handbag or lunch box quite easily, and held with one hand while dangling from the commuter strap waiting for some young punk to give up their seat for the nice grey haired lady (fat chance). I enjoyed the writing in this book but did not get a sense of a strong narrative, rather many well written threads.

Try as I may, I still only manage 3 or 4 books a year.   So, between studying Italian, work at the documentation factory, volunteering for the Fringe and enjoying summer and the festival season, here’s the list I will work with this year (subject to change without notice).

This year's crop - some carried over from last year