Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Tribute on Mother's Day


In 1961, a young Calabrian girl married her sweetheart.
They had met many years earlier during WW11 when his family, in Northern Italy, hosted hers.


Soon after their marriage, this young bride left her big, loving family to embark on a life adventure, joining her new husband in the far off foreign land of Australia.

Life in tropical, northern Australia was a stark contrast to her home in Reggio di Calabria. Strange foods, different cultures and a  foreign language in a harsh, oppressively hot country. At first intense homesickness and the loss of their first child took it's toll. However, she soon found herself being embraced by the small farming community and friendship were cemented. Alongside her husband she worked and toiled the land and kept neat the little home her husband had prepared.


The young couples' joy was increased as their first daughter was born followed a few years later by a second daughter.


She revelled in making her girls' birthdays special with cake and spumante.



Life was simple but good.



With her captivating smile and vivacious personality, she soon befriended many, enjoying the multi cultural aspect of the community.  Teaching a friend a traditional Italian recipe, sharing a joke, days at the beach were her pleasures.



She showered her growing daughters with love and attention.


But within 15 years of arriving in Australia, her life was cut short.

This was my mother.

I was nine at the time and my sister, thirteen.
My mother didn't grace the front cover of a magazine.
My mother wasn't a famous public figure.
My mother wasn't a Pulitzer prize winner in fact, I don't think she ever won anything in her short life.
But, as many young Italian brides who left their family and friends behind to immigrate to Australia for a better life, she had courage and fortitude to overcome what was presented to her.
She made the most of her life and as many people who die young, she seemed to live life to the fullest.
My father never quite recovered and lost the joie de vivre that he had in her company.
My sister and I also lost much.
We lost the unconditional love,
the teachings,
and the traditions a mother passes on.
Our mother was a great cook and baker but as with all women who arrive in this foreign land of Australia, often she reworked the traditional recipes with the ingredients she had on hand.
And so, unwittingly, new recipes were created.


My sister has always hungered for a speciality our mother made.

Fried Ravioli di Ricotta.

Recently we attempted to recreate our mothers' speciality.
It should have consisted of crispy fried pastry filled with sweet orange scented ricotta.
Did it work?
No, it was a major fail!
The ricotta was not firm enough,
The pastry not crispy enough and
the ravioli kept unsealing in the hot oil.
Does anyone know of this recipe?  I'd love to hear from you.

However, all was not lost.
The pastry I had used was the same as the dough for storch.
What is "storch"?
Interestingly, this is the crispy, lighter-than-air fried pastry is other wise known in Italy as crostoli, cenci, bugi, chiacchieri and in some places I am told - stracci. For some reason in our part of the world they became - storch.

This is how I make "storch".

You will need a pasta machine to achieve the thinness required for this recipe

2 cups flour
pinch of salt
30g butter, slightly softened
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon brandy
1or 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
light flavour oil for frying


For this purpose I had doubled the quantity but one quantity will make many.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, place the flour and salt.  Add the butter and mix on low until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add in the eggs, egg yolk, brandy, sugar and vanilla. Mix on low until combine. Switch to dough hook attachment and knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. This can all be done by hand, of course. 
Rest the dough for at least an hour.


Cut small portion of dough off the "mother" dough. Flatten the smaller piece and begin to pass through the pasta machine on the widest setting. Fold the dough and keep passing it through the widest setting until the dough is smooth and pliable. Dust with extra flour as required. Begin to reduce the setting until you are at the finest setting. Pass the dough through the finest setting and place the length of dough on to you work surface. Carefully stretch it to ensure it is as thin as possible




Cut the dough along the length into about 5cm or 2 inch strips which will be approximately 10 - 15cm or 4 -6 inches long. This is just to give you an idea but really how you cut is up to you. I make a small cut in the middle of each piece and twist one end through the cut, as you can see above.



I like to shallow fry but you can deep fry. The oil should not be too hot - approximately 180C/375F.
The storch should not colour too deeply.
They will puff and expand.
Carefully turn, if you are shallow frying and remove when you think they are ready.
They will be a little soft but will crispen on cooling. 




Drain on absorbent paper.
Then when cool dust generously with icing (powdered) sugar.


 Today in Australia is Mother's Day and I celebrate with others, the gift of my kind, brave mother.
I ask one thing of you.
Take time today to turn to your mother and tell her how much you love and respect her.
If you can't be with her, call your mother and remember to telephone regularly.
If you have lost her like me, keep her memory alive by talking to your family and friends about her, cook her recipes, keep in contact with her friends.

My mother wrote in my childhood autograph book:-

Tanti amici, fratelli e sorelli
Ma sempre solo una mamma. 

In other words,
You can have many friends, brothers and sisters
But only ever one mother.

7 comments:

With An Italian Heart said...

What a loving and very fitting tribute to our beautiful Mother. It brought tears to my eyes; of nostalgia and longing but also of deep joy and love for all she gave us, for the verve with which she lived her life and for the traditions and stories my sister and I now continue with our own families. Our dearest Mum who we hold so very dear to our hearts; forever loved, never forgotten.

Claudia said...

Teared up but the legacy of love left behind is filled with largesse. Being on the cover of Time magazine is overrated. Unconditional love is not. And the recipe will stay bookmarked until I make it. With love.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

What a glowing, beautiful tribute to your mom. I'm so sorry you lost her at such a young age, but it's obvious she imparted a lot of love to you and your sister. I enjoyed seeing all the old photos and of course the recipe has always been one of my favorites.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Marcellina, What a beautiful post and very near and dear to my heart. My mother passed away when I was nine from cancer, she was known as wonderful cook and thanks to my aunt ( who recently passed away)for keeping her recipes alive for me. I too miss the history from her, the present, past and future.

Mary said...

What sweet memories of your mother. She would revel in you recollections of her. Some bonds can never be broken. That between a mother and a daughter is one of them. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Cakelaw said...

What a beautiful tribute - I loved reading about your mum.

Chris said...

Hi Marcellina, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/