Teresa Oates and Angela Villella

Teresa Oates and Angela Villella

Teresa Oates and Angela Villella were both brought up in Calabrian-Australian migrant families in Melbourne, surrounded by fresh produce and a passionate food culture. In a quest to rescue their mammas' recipes from extinction, they have banded together to set up www.mangiamangia.com.au, a site to share their family recipes and to encourage others to preserve their family food history, whatever their story or ethnic background. Their first book, Mangia! Mangia!, explores their families' food culture and recipes.

Q&A

What is your new book about?
Our book is about the spirit that drew our families together again after the separation endured by the migrants who came to Australia from Italy in the 1950s and ‘60s. It is also about the wonderful dishes that are served both for celebrations and simple family gatherings – for us, they are equally special. It is a homage to a people, a culture and a type of food that is part of Australia's social history, for all to remember and enjoy.

What was your biggest challenge along the way?
Ensuring that we captured the human emotions behind the recipes and the celebrations. We lived it, so we feel it easily, but communicating something as ephemeral and momentary as the spirit of an occasion was the biggest challenge.

What do you hope for your book?
That it inspires people from all walks of life to believe in the restorative power of simple gatherings, during which a meal is shared and memories are made. 

Who or what inspires you?
All our elders, from our grandparents to our parents, aunts and uncles – those still with us and those who have passed on.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Any home-cooked meal shared with family and friends.

What makes it so special?
Family and friends, and a welcoming heart.

Who are your food heroes?
Again, our elders, who cook well and taught us to eat and live well – one can't exist without the other.

What are the three ingredients you couldn’t live without?
The three p’s: pasta, pane (bread) and passata

What is your favourite quick-and-easy weeknight dinner? 
A simple plate of pasta con aglio e olio (pasta with garlic and olive oil) always does the trick.

Who would you most like to have dinner with, and why?
Our family and friends – ‘cos the food always taste great when you’re surrounded by people you love!

 

by Teresa Oates and Angela Villella