It's been a busy and emotional time here at casa mia. I live in a house which belongs to a Puglian family. There are an Aunt and Uncle who live in the mini-appartment below, whilst their two nephews live in the house above, along with me and another housemate, Yasar.
I've been here since October, and we've all ticked along well together. Occasionally the aunt would offer me a homemade goody in passing, or the uncle would come upstairs to deliver fresh milk for the youngest nephew (apparently 21-year-old males aren't capable of keeping themselves in milk). I'd often hear voices raised in argument from down below or the aunt shouting up to her nephew Michele to come and get a nice hot plate of pasta.
Then one day a couple of weeks ago the boys' mamma Maria arrived from the South, along with various bags of produce, 3 different varieties of homemade cake...and a suitcase. Yes, it turned out Maria was planning on staying a few days. Never having had a controlling Italian-style mamma I groaned inwardly at the thought of the inevitable interference that would ensue. In fact it started immediately, with Maria taking issue with Michele's new girlfriend and banning her from the house while she was staying on Michele's floor (quite rightly too). This immediately caused a rift between son and mother, and Maria was left to the company of me and my Syrian housemate Yasar.
However despite my reservations, she turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to the house! If there was a problem, she'd sort it, if there was an old tomato, she'd make it into a pizza, if we were sad or stressed she'd sit us down for a chat over a limoncello.
While she was here the downstairs bathroom was being repaired and the boiler broke, leaving us with only one bathroom and no hot water for the whole easter break. What could've turned into a disaster zone with hysterics and a full-scale war against the aunt and uncle who refused to call the emergency plumber, was neatly averted by Maria who played mediator and even got us invited to easter lunch downstairs. After a few moments of tension all was fine and we happily stuffed ourselves, shouted along with the rest of them (it turned out the shouting wasn't arguing, it was just normal conversation at top volume), and admired the family photo albums.
Now Maria's gone back to Puglia, Michele's girlfriend is firmly re-instated in his room, and me and Yasar feel just a little bit lost without out Italian mamma. On the plus side, we're left feeling much more in famiglia than before, with the aunt bringing us some fresh jam tart, or even popping up for a quick chat. And mamma Maria has promised to come back soon to help us reorganise the kitchen and make some homemade jam. Now to work on those conversational shouting skills...