Posts Tagged ‘Italy


You didn’t really spend £16.95 for a Pepperoni Pizza, did you?

I read that many people in the UK have to borrow money or dig out of their savings just to buy food.  So who’s buying the pizza for £16.95?  In Chennai, India, I thought I was really splurging when I got a Domino’s pizza for rs 600.  So in my survival mode, I looked in my cupboard, and then googled.  Even though I was brought up in a second-generation Sicilian home in Timonium, MD, I didn’t know the difference between pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce.  I bet you didn’t either.  So this is it:  it’s mainly more concentrated, more spicy–and no surprises–lotsa sugar–or honey if you want to justify yourself.

So if you are poor but need your pizza, buy a pizza shell and make your own.  I had tomatoes in a tin, so I put it through my blender until it was thick.  I added tomato puree.  Then I added basil, fresh oregano, sea salt, cayenne pepper, honey, black pepper, lotsa garlic (love my garlic press), bay leaf, and…and…are you ready for this?  Because you really have to be ready.  I don’t know what Nona Fava would make out of this, but here it goes.  Yes, I put in two clean egg shells.  Why?  To take out the acidity.  This is huge if you have GURT or an ulcer or you know…

But that’s not my secret ingredient.  It has to do with Pinocchio.  I’ll tell you tomorrow.


Marcel Marceau at the Anganwadi Daycare Center

I went to the anganwadi alone on Thursday. That meant my communication with the teachers would be limited to my elementary Tamil. It is a double anganwadi which means there are two teachers. These teachers are incredible. I couldn’t do what they do. They are my heroes.

As I approached the door, I heard unusual disruption. There was an inordinate amount of crying and screaming. It made me think of the song, “Mama Said There’d be Days Like This, My Mama Said.” So I knew I needed to pull a rabbit out of the hat. I entered singing the time-honoured song, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”  I wish I could sing it as well as this Indian lady. We kept singing it until most of the angry feelings had left.

Then I did what I haven’t done for many years: mime. When my husband and I were living in Paris, we got to see Marcel Marceau perform. He did David and Goliath, the Mask–which I modified for training exercises, and Adam and Eve. He was so incredibly inspiring. My husband and I actually dating while doing street theatre and mime. We used Marceau’s mime, “Adam and Eve.” (I wish I was as talented as this lady.) I can still do a pretty good snake with my arm. But one mime really struck me that he did–the box mime–it’s a mime where the victim finds himself caught in an invisible box. He bangs his fists furiously, trying to get out.

My husband and I did mime in various countries in Europe. In fact, I got my job working for Air France as a Concorde ground agent doing mime during the interview. In France, when we would put the white face on and start performing, hauty-looking people would suddenly change into impressionable children. You don’t know the French until you perform mime on the streets of Paris in front of the Sacre-Coeur. On the other hand, when we did mime at Colchester Castle Park, it went over like a lead balloon, and we became very self-conscious.  I think it may have had something to do with our next-door neighbour recognizing us and just saying, “Oh, hello.” and kept on walking.

In Italy, everyone already does mime when they talk, so it is one of the best places to do mime. One of the most rewarding places was in Helsinki, Finland. Finnish people the opposite of Italians–they aren’t what you’d call demonstrative. But when we did mime, crowds would come and we felt they were totally withus. In India, we don’t need make-up. We have white faces.

So years and continents later, here I was in a government pre-school with 40 unhappy kids and two tired teachers. So I started doing the mime. It is safe to say that these kids probably have never seen mime. It is sort of an abstract art. You have to concentrate to get it. I was taking a chance. The Twinkle warm-up was good, but would I lose my audience by trying something too high-brow.

These kids got it! They laughted at all the right places. Finally I motioned to one bright little girl to turn the “knob” on the other side of my “door.” She set me free!

Yes, these kids are always setting me free from the banalities of adulthood.  With them, you fly faster and higher than with the Concorde.

P.S.  I got to meet Marcel Marceau.  He was a passenger on the Concorde.  I must admit, I had fun giving him his boarding pass in a Marcel Marceau fashion.  He was very kind about my performance but did not insist I quit my day job.