The Kinnie Club

At the heart of my family is pizza

Back from our summer holiday and it was straight into mum’s kitchen. She had sent me a text before we had arrived home. “Home-made pizza Saturday night at our place you are invited.” My response was instant “me and the boys will be there!”

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It really is not an invitation that you can turn down or would want to turn down. Food is at the heart of my family. Every now and again, if the zucchinis are in season and Nanna’s garden has an overgrown crop of them, if my Aunty has too many broad beans or if my Dad and cousin have stumbled across a new Mediterranean supermarket in the outer suburbs, there is always a reason to get together and cook up something.

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The cooking part is often left to a select few: my Dad, Mum and my cousin’s husband. While the rest of us shift and wait, prepare the table, have a few glasses of wine or Kinnie and keep a very close eye on the oven. Saturday night was pizza night and it just may have been one of the best pizza night’s we have ever had.

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When I got to mum’s the dough and the bases were almost ready. Toppings had been meticulously prepared and set out in bowls. The smell of all the fresh food and strong flavours in Mum’s kitchen was not only mouth watering, my stomach was doing somersaults in anticipation.

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I think deep down my favourite’s are always to old ones. The old flavours and toppings that my parents grew up with back home in Malta. The simplicity of potato, olives, capers and a drizzle of olive oil on a base of rich tomoato doesn’t just taste good and fill my tummy. It fills my soul. A connection back to a time when I did not even exist. A time when time itself moved as slowly as the wooden cart behind the donkey being drawn down the dust filled streets. A fire ignites within, one that never really goes out, but is flamed stronger with each bite of pizza.

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Some toppings mean more to some than they do to others. Toppings that were once a mother’s signature dish, a mother who is no longer with us and passed many years ago. But here in a country thousand of kilometres away and decades later she is remembered, her spirit rekindled. Almost as if through her son’s hands, her own hands are at work in the kitchen. Weaving their magic.

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I can’t help but wonder if it is moments like these that we are really here for. Moments like these the ones that only matter. Gathered around my mother’s kitchen, detached from work, detached from social media, detached from the binds of responsibility. Left only with the freedom of actually talking to each other. The lightness of being around the ones you love and in turn the ones that love you just as much, or even more, back. The silver web of tradition and generation glistening as the pizza cooks.

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Every one has a place here. Sitting around the kitchen bench watching the pizza makers at work. Stealing some of the ingredients when no one is watching. Dragging in the mismatched extra tables and chairs from the garage into the house so we can all sit together once the cooking is done. Eat together, drink together and just be together. My heart aches lately as I look out across that table of people. The pangs of reality as I wonder, will my frail and aging Nannu be with us the next time we sit down at this table? Will it be the same when he is not?

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But then that is what makes nights like these even more important. The memories we take away with us long after the pizza is gone. The values and lessons the pizza makers try to teach us as they knead the dough, spread the sauce, fill the toppings and drizzle with the olive oil and cheese.

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Sometimes I wonder if the pizza would taste as good if someone else was making it? Sometimes I think it really wouldn’t. Because something else goes into each pizza, something you cannot buy at a store or make yourself. Something that lingers silently in the room. Above the din of chatter, the kitchen drawers opening and closing, the kids screaming with laughter down the hall. I wish I could reach up my hand to touch it, grab hold and not let go.

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Family. At the heart of mine is pizza. At the heart of mine is night’s gathered around my mother’s kitchen. At the heart of mine is a heart so much older than I am. Older than my mother. Older than her mother. At the heart of mine is a longevity of love that filters down and wraps around even our most simple of every day tasks. Filters down and hovers in the room on night’s like this one and fills our soul with the tempting somersaults of pizza. Fills our soul with so much more.

Would you like some?

  • Looks amazing and what a wonderful way for your family to gather together. Those toppings have me drooling. A pizza oven is on the top of my wish list when we build our dream home.

    • We love our pizza over, but all these amazing creations were cooked in a conventional oven and tasted amazing!

  • Hell yeah, I would like some. Oh my God, you guys know how to do pizza well. I have never made a pizza with potato before. Do you cook the potato before you put it on? I suppose you boil it a little? I need to know because it needs to be in my belly stat. Loved this post and learning more about your family traditions x

    • Yes you must cook the potato before you place it on the pizza. Surprisingly, the simplest way is to slice and steam quickly in the microwave xx

  • LydiaCLee

    That is amazing! They look fab. It’s at the heart of ours too, but we go to a restaurant – occasionally we use the woodfire oven we have access too but I seem to have lost my mojo and they don’t work out like they used to…

    • I think mojo has so much to do with cooking being “just food” or “really amazing” something about it……

  • Oh wow, these look amazing!! All those vegies look great- I think if you decided to post the recipes there’d be some super appreciative readers! 😉 – Amy

    • Oh Amy, not my recipes to share, maybe one day – I will have to consult the pizza makers 😉

  • Wow! These look amazing. They’re not just any old pizzas! There is nothing like coming together around a big feast of comforting food. It’s a favourite thing of mine too x

    • Such moments are truly special aren’t they – I find myself craving nights like this sometimes xx

  • So I’m on the home straight of a 30 day cleanse and I am salivating big time. Yummo. We also do homemade pizzas but we don’t have the mediterranean tradition you have, it is just something we enjoy. We also do dumplings which I started making given our kids are Chinese – again without the family tradition but it is something we are building over time. Love and family really are the special ingredients in life. I savoured your words, even if pizza is off the menu for the next week or so.

    • Thank you Kathy, I really appreciate what you shared. I’m sure those dumplings are made with just as much love as they are ingredients xx

  • Oh my goodness I am in heaven just looking at these photos. Pizza is my absolute favourite and especially if it is homemade. I would love to come to your house for some real pizza. You have inspired me with some of those toppings. What a beautiful tradition, family and food together the way it should be. I love it

  • Those pizzas look delicious, and even better they are cooked from the heart. I totally understand where you are coming from. I love family traditions like this. My parents are German, so the times we spend gathered together with family and friends enjoying traditional home cooked meals are moments I’ll always remember.

    • The memories from moments like these seem to linger down generations don’t they? xx

  • Natalie @ Our Parallel Connect

    Yes I’ll have some please. Wow they look divine, I’m salivating and I have just downed my lunch. Amazing pictures too Josefa.. I always think anything tastes better when someone else makes it.

  • Your pizza looks so good Josepha. Bang goes my diet.

  • I think food is at the heart of our family too. It is often all we talk about. What is the next meal. How the meat will be prepared. When can we next buy more food.

  • Oh my mouth is watering. I think you are right, it is these moments that life are about. Undoubtedly.

    • I think so too Jodi, and it is moments like these that I fall back on when everything else doesn’t seem to make sense xx

  • That dough looks amazing! (I’ve been working on pizza dough myself lately, so my eyes went straight there!)
    I love pizza. In our family it was often an event too, but they were store bought, and it was often around the tele for a movie or sport event. Your way sounds so much more fun.

    • I think any way is fun Jess! Being together, making the memories, creating the moments that things that count xx

  • Those pizza toppings made me salivate Josefa! I love a good pizza and so does my husband. What a beautiful post. You are so blessed to have your family Josefa. X

  • Such a beautiful tradition Josefa, these look delicious! Food plays such a big part in our family gatherings too x

    • Love that Lisa, food, family, memories – on some days could we want anything more?

  • Yes please. We love homemade pizza too. While we don’t have the Italian connection we certainly find the family connecting as we knead the dough, prepare all the toppings and “decorate” our bases. I love food that brings back memories, and creates memories.

    • I love the idea of decorating your bases! Everyone in my family gets to have their own pizza too – however they like it – which makes it even more special xx

  • Mum of Adult Kids

    Oh my! Those pizzas look delish. But even better than that, the sense of family and togetherness that your post conveys. Just lovely!

  • TeganMC

    What a beautiful tradition. I can feel the love in your words as you describe everything that goes into your families gathering. The pizzas look delicious too!

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