We’ve had an Italian visitor who came from Bassano del Grappa (birthday place of Tito Gobbi) especially to celebrate with 13 old school friends the 50th anniversary of matriculating from Bergvliet High in 1968.
Their headmaster, the late P.A.M Van der Spuy was proud that they were the first matric class since the school opened in 1957, to achieve a 100% matric pass rate.
Rory Lello grew up with his journalist and sailing parents and four siblings at Oude Raapkraal in Westlake.
On leaving school he worked under a German winemaker at Devon Valley Estates but jumped at the opportunity to go to Italy to sail and look after the yacht of an Italian count.
He ended up making wine and running his boss’s estate in Bassano where he has lived since.
Like most Italians he loves to cook and to eat what he cooks so he offered to make risotto for supper and proudly showed the ingredients he had brought. Privately I thought this unnecessary as we always have rice and mushrooms, though not the saffron which, if you can get it, adds both flavour and that attractive pale yellow colour.
When I arrived home from the matinee of Cinderella at Artscape, I sniffed like a Bisto Kid the delicious aroma of fried mushrooms cooked in lots of garlic. Gleefully I went to the pot … and was horrified to find it almost empty. While we were both out, Peri had demolished all that her greedy tongue could reach when standing on her hind legs at the stove.
Twice I’ve lost my Sunday breakfast when leaving my unguarded plate to fetch the toast, but this was serious. In my panic, I half-thought of frying some fresh mushrooms in garlic and adding them to his remains but sanity prevailed.
I guessed he’d notice the difference between local mushrooms and his dried porcini (Boletus edulis) which, according to the label on the empty packet “had a unique and unmistakable taste that brought out the best of any sauce for pasta or rice while risotto with porcini was a classic – almost an institution of Italian cooking”.
Luckily Rory was nicely mellowed when he returned from his reunion lunch and instead of being furious said, “Moenie worry nie, I brought two packets of mushrooms… I’ll cook up the other one.”
Phew! And the finished risotto was magnificent!
No munchies in theatre please
I can accept, if not like, the way eating large tubs of popcorn is commonplace at cinemas. However, the line should be drawn at parents bringing tuck boxes for their kids to eat during a live theatrical show.
I was appalled at the number of youngsters around me, accompanied by adults, who crunched carrots, biscuits and swallowed juices during the matinee of Cinderella.
Surely they should be made to wait until interval for their snacks and not start unpacking them noisily during a quiet moment of a pas de deux.
Mind you some of the parents don’t set a good example – constantly switching on their phones for a quick peep to check their messages or receive news on WhatsApp.
It’s time theatre managers put up notices requesting patrons please to wait until interval to use their phones and to refrain from bringing food from home.
Last week’s heat wave caused such a mass of insects to descend on us at Langebaan that we almost packed up and came home.
We know from experience that horse flies appear when the warm north east wind blows, but we had hundreds of other insects, including masses of tiny fast-moving little things, which dropped from the window when sprayed but within an hour were replaced by another crop.
We had numerous mosquitoes and house flies ranging from big black, slow ones, to those that were small and quick.
Then for the first time I encountered hordes of black flea-sized, flying insects which could nip and were difficult to crush because of their hard exterior. I ended up plucking them off my shirt and dropping them into water. I guess this will upset the reader who wrote to me about killing snails. “They are not bits of plastic but living beings of a simple nature. They are cute with their delicate little feelers”.
Fortunately when the temperature cooled the insects disappeared.
Christmas in the air
Last Friday I dropped into the Constantia Handcraft Club’s bi-annual exhibition and found the NGK Hall on Ladies Mile transformed by the colourful Christmas decorations as well as the creativity and caring of the members. Many of the exquisite items on show were made for others – children, grandchildren, parents and people in need of special help.
Chairperson Elaine Cleghorn showed me some of the club’s charity projects ranging from collecting enough humble bread tags to buy 500 wheelchairs to cheering Meals on Wheels recipients with Christmas gifts of imaginatively decorated soap bars and packets of biscuits.
Through the Breathe Easy Unit, children who have undergone a tracheostomy, receive a specially-designed carry bag for a manual foot-pump as well as a hand-knitted teddy bear, or doll, with a hole in its throat.
This is to help children to cope better with the hole in their throats after surgery.
Mothers with babies are dear to the heart of members. The Zoe Project helps desperately poor mums with new-born babes by giving them packs of clothing and essential items to help them get started.
So far 2 660 knitted baby items, such as booties and beanies, have been given to the Mowbray Maternity Hospital.
As a memento of my visit, I bought a tiny Sock Monkey to remind me of this enterprising club.
Get your worth
A man in the house is worth two in the street – Mae West