Your mother might have been the most terrifying woman in your life growing up, but your Nonna was your best friend and reliably in your camp, except when you complained about Tomato Day. We love our pasta, we love our pancetta, but most of all—we love our Nonnas. Here are the five you’ve definitely encountered at some point in your life (with a little help from our very own Sandhurst Fine Foods nonna—bellissimo!).
1. The Tomato Day Obsessed Nonna
Holidays are ranked Easter, Christmas, Tomato Day. Otherwise known as Passata Day, Tomato Day is the family event of the year with this Nonna. Every member of the family is expected to turn up and participate in hard labour (it’s borderline abuse) for the full day, or risk being banished and labelled “un-Italian” for the next 365 days.
There is always squishing, squelching, squeezing and rubbing involved, so you learnt as a child to wear your Sunday worst. Tomato Day always makes enough sauce to fill your fridge, freezer and your neighbour’s house with your Nonna’s top-secret sauce. Tomato Day Nonna is pedantic about the ingredients used, which must be authentic Italian. (Sandhurst olives ONLY, FYI.) It’s probably a good thing, because if you ever got pasta cravings and bought supermarket sauce, your Nonna would probably give you enough of an earful you’d wish you were drowning in tomatoes.
2. The Hardcore Italian Nonna
You’ve never seen this Nonna take off her kitchen apron, nor can you locate a photograph of her apron-free. You’ve had theories as a child, like when you postulated she must have sewn identical aprons on all her dresses and shirts.
People (still) never believe you when you insist pizza is actually supposed to be rectangular, not this Western circular bull**** shape. It’s because of this Nonna that you can’t contemplate what “one serve” looks like, and why when you (shamefully) buy premade lasagne you laugh at the “serves four” label. She’s also why you always smell like salami, but if she ever stopped feeding you, you’d definitely starve to death.
3. The…Quirky Nonna
Like the Hardcore Nonna, Quirky Nonna travels around with a permanently filled glass of red wine in her hand. You tried her homebrewed wine once and it was so strong you nearly passed out. If it’s (somehow) not wine in her hand—maybe it’s 2am in the morning and she’s trying to go to sleep—it’s a stovetop-brewed espresso. You’ll never admit to anyone that you prefer it over Melbourne’s #filteredcoffee, because you’d like to keep your foodie badge, thank you very much.
4. The Helicopter Nonna
Hardcore Nonna’s best mate, the helicopter Nonna is always a) making you eat or b) trying to get you a husband. She's big on espousing the 'hidden benefits' of proper Italian ingredients. Helicopter Nonna has no concept of an inside voice, especially when you turn up with your hair straightened or a non-Italian boyfriend.
Your helicopter Nonna brings new meaning to the words “loud and proud”, but you know it’s time to bolt if she’s angry and has a wooden spoon in her hand. Deep down, you know it’s her way of showing she loves you. Deep, deep down.
5. The Dessert Nonna
The only spread in Dessert Nonna’s cupboard is Nutella, and it’s also the only acceptable breakfast spread in the house. Dessert Nonna is the Queen of struffoli, cannoli and tiramisu. Her desserts are so good, you think she’s ruined you for all non-Italian desserts for the rest of your life. She’s also the reason you binge eat Stella D'oro cookies when you’re sad and you keep Panettone in the pantry all year, just in case.
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Image credit: Federica Portentoso for The Urban List