When Giovanna and her husband invited me round for a meal, I wasn’t expecting to be in training for Sumo status.
Nonna Maria frogmarched me, along with henpecked Alfredo, to the table and put a prodding finger to her cheek.
‘Buono!’ she said terrifyingly.
As I started to eat, the words ‘Mangia! Mangia!’ were on a roll.
All the while, spoilt children Marco and the sullen Elenia looked on while twisting the odd string of spaghetti on to a fork.
Fat Lorenzo the dog looked on expectantly with a gleam in his eye.
As matriarch Maria became food Gestapo, checking we were eating at a steady pace, Alfredo watched on in gap-toothed homage.
By the time the main course had arrived, I felt like I’d become Pavarotti’s clone – and some!
Lorenzo the dog began to yap, while Marco and Elenia started playing up.
Old Maria reprimanded them in a manner not dissimilar to Fanny Cradock in those old ‘60s TV cookery shows, while Alfredo mopped up his sugo with a wodge of bread.
I thought they’d at least leave me to implode by Tiramisu stage but, oh no, it was time to dance.
Alfredo was quite nimble on his feet, but Maria feigned indifference and started her next round of chiding over all matters kitchen. Alfredo seemed to have a slight spring in his step as he moved around in manner not dissimilar to a quiet whirling dervish.
That old song, ‘Please release me’ sprang to mind. Alfredo was now doing it ‘Bunga Bunga’ style and would have impressed Berlusconi no end!
The doorbell rang and a million bambini arrived. The ensuing chaos gave matriarch Maria some new tasks to address.
Fat Lorenzo had seized his chance and had managed to assume a mouthful of pasta, so Maria shooed him out ‘la porta.’
The noise volume alto; the laughter level tops; Colpo Grosso’ tried to compete from the TV but to not avail, bare bits’n’all.
So all fatted out and volumed up, as if I’d been through a vortex several times, I left the apartamento for my place.
A typical Italian meal.