Last month The Italian’s mamma, affectionately known as ‘Ma’ (with a whiny ‘ah’), arrived from Milan to meet Baby G for the first time. She had been to the Land of Oz previously, at the same time last year, when Baby G was but a thought and a hope. Back then she had arrived in dramatic fashion, ferried off the plane in a wheelchair and nursing a broken ulna. We had pre-booked trips to Tasmania and Uluru before the occurrence of the scooter accident that had rendered her cast-bound. Insisting we go ahead with the trips, poor Ma was subjected to a ‘grassroots-style’, 2-day tour of the Red Centre, complete with a night in a solo tent, a toilet teeming with centipedes and other unmentionables, and a camel ride through the desert. Ma went from a savvy Milano city slicker to outback Aussie fly swatter with one arm in use and a whole lot of faith in me, the trip planner. And I felt terrible. And that I committed an epic mamma-in-law fail. But she graciously and bravely took on the outback with style and curiosity, I’m sure downing painkillers every time we were out of sight. With the affectation of a broad accent she perfected the Aussie response to most questions: ‘no worries’. And she discovered the joy of free water, Melbourne’s coffee culture and fusion food, green oases in the middle of the city and perfectly ripe mangoes and avocados.
This time around we kept our adventures to a minimum. A 3-month-old baby proved enough to keep the three of us on our toes each day. It was a true pleasure to watch Ma and her ‘spaghettini’ get to know one another, and listen to the new nonna tell stories to the enchanted Baby G, the former TV-news anchor mesmerising him in her perfectly-pronounced and clear Italian stories of lavish trips they would take and family he would one day meet. Not to mention the back-of-car handholding service she provided for Baby G to have us reach a destination tear-free.
The night before Ma returned to Italy, I attempted to make her a salad with her favourite Aussie ingredients. ‘Attempt’ because Baby G had his own plans to thwart my kitchen time and put on a crying spectacular, as though he was protesting against the whole business of Nonna leaving him. The inevitably sad airport parting came around far too quickly and now we wait until September, when Ma and Baby G will be reunited in Milan. Until then, we will think of Ma each time with eat saffron risotto (Risotto Milanese) with the gazillions of sachets of saffron Ma brought over or listen to the Celtic Baby Lullaby CD she bought for Baby G in the hope that it sends him blissfully to sleep. Ma, I tried it and it worked :).
1 iceberg or cos lettuce head, washed and cut into a fashion of your choosing
2 small or 1 large ripe mango, cut into cubes
2 small or 1 large ripe avocado, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup macadamias
300 g cooked whole prawns (I used tiger prawns)
Arrange the ingredients as you wish in a large bowl and if serving with ranch dressing (the highly non-Australian addition that works so well), serve this on the side so as not to soggify the salad ahead of eating.