My forever inspiration, my Nonno
In Italy we refer to our grandparents as nonno and nonna and today I would like to introduce you to my beloved nonno, aka Piero for family and friends. I have started to feel more attached to him during the past few years, maybe because I have been living abroad and spending time away from your loved ones makes you appreciate them more. Piero is known for his many qualities, he is funny, kind, and extremely generous, but the reason why he makes all of us so happy is because he used to be a chef and owned his own restaurant. He is a master of Italian cuisine, which is not as sophisticated as other ones, but trust me it tastes pretty good.
“Il Calice'' has always been a magical place for me and my sisters. Growing up, my dad worked a lot and my mum was busy helping my grandpa in the restaurant and therefore I ended up spending lots of time with my grandparents. When it was my nonno’s day we would often just hang in the restaurant and help with the cooking or making pizza, the greatest job ever. I remember those days pretty well: getting all dirty, robbing warm fresh baked bread and prosciutto, or stealing homemade lemon ice cream. Great times. The people who worked there were also my family. Chefs who helped in the kitchen used to prepare my favourite dishes every time the occasion showed, which mostly consisted of a nice plate of “pasta alla cubana” and “tortino al cioccolato con cuore caldo” (lava chocolate cake), with a little glass of wine diluted in water of course. In Italy, especially in my city I would say, adults teach you early how to drink. I must admit though that I am a disappointment for my fellow veronesi. It is probably with my nonno that I first tasted alcohol, I am almost sure. The place was consistently noisy, people coming in and going out, nervous chefs, rushing waiters, hungry people, but in the end all the sounds and the confusion together were harmonious. Plus, my nonno was there ready to steal a smile from the angry customer and tranquillise the busy “Flash” pizza guy, restoring peace. Apart from the restaurant, which is no longer his, my grandpa has a little house in the hills where he goes to enjoy the lovely sunny Italian days while growing his own olives and grapes, for his olive oil and wine respectively. The wine he makes is not like the finest Château Mouton, not at all, but believe me that sitting around the table sipping it while eating salame with a bunch of nonno’s friends, is one of life’s pleasures.
Till this very day, paying him a visit is a joy. Nonno teaches me something everyday. People of his generation had to go through very hard situations, but despite everything they always see the bright side of things. I don’t recall a day in which I saw my grandfather sad or dissatisfied with his life. He tells me stories, and no matter how distressing or unpleasant life was for him, he never complains about it. His family was really poor, six children to feed in the second after-war, in a devastated Italy. We all should start taking a leaf from their book and start seeing what the real difficulties actually are.
I consider him my hero and I hope he is aware of how much I love him. Nonno paved the way for the foods I love and eat today. And that’s the food I love to eat and make. Living alone, I have to cook something everyday, but I know that I can count on my nonno’s help for recipes. No frills. Homey. Nourishing. Simple. Nothing better. I do not love him only because of his cooking abilities. As mentioned before, he is a generous and without fail positive man. During these last years, due to the covid pandemic, I have seen all my grandparents ageing very quickly. It made me think a lot on how thankful I should be to them, for taking care of me, for being my teachers, for believing in me. Grandmas were strict with me sometimes, because I gave them hard times to be honest, however my nonno was never like them.
In conclusion, we all should tell our beloved nonni, nonne,abuelas, babushkas how much we love them and how grateful we are to them one more time, because they are our superheroes who will always be there for us and who will forever have something to teach us.