I love the fact that I can have what would reasonably be described as a surfeit of cookbooks and yet there are still new wonderful cooks and chefs to discover. In this instance, it is a cook called Guy Mirabella, who runs a cafe just an hour to the southeast of Melbourne in Mornington.
Eat Ate is his second cookbook. For most of his life, Guy Mirabella has been a teacher and graphic designer.
This book is beautifully photographed by Earl Carter, which would therefore in theory make it fall under the coffee table cookbooks category (and therefore be one which I wouldn't usually like), however his recipes are wonderful and he writes so evocatively about his family and their history that one can't help but be seduced. And how could you not like someone who loves his mother so.
Italians in Melbourne have contributed an enormous amount to all parts of our society, not just food and coffee wise, but in the arts, politics, literature, business and manufacturing. One of the largest construction companies in Australia, Grocon, is still run by the Grollo family. Guy Grossi is a celebrated chef who has restaurants in Melbourne (Florentino) and also now in Thailand. Ron Barassi, footballer, coach and 'sporting great' has Italian ancestry. And the list just goes on and on.
Italian is now the fifth largest ancestry identified by Australians, after Irish, English, Scottish and 'Australian'. Italians have migrated to Australia since the Gold Rush in the 1840s but the level increased markedly after 1921 when the US imposed restrictions on Italian migration. (This was also impacted by the rise of fascism in Italy in the 1920s). After 1946 migration rates increased markedly resulting in 100,000s of Italians migrating to Australia, mostly to New South Wales and Victoria.
Guy Mirabella evokes these times in his sections on the food he ate growing up.
This is how he describes the two different ways of partaking of breakfast by his father (Sicilian born, came to Australia in the middle of last century) and his wife's father, also Italian but from the North. Every day at 6 am, his father-in-law, Vincenzo, would down a whole raw egg with a glass of his home-made red wine.
In contrast, in Guy Mirabella's house, breakfast was warm milk and bread soup. The bread was always day-old ciabatta style, and the milk came from theirJersey cow Mary. Because there were in Australia, their mother sprinkled Teddy Bear biscuits over the top.
Many immigrants to Australia speak of Lunchbox Differentiation. Whilst I was sent to school with Vegemite or cheese sandwiches, the MIrabella children were sent to school with brocolli fritti in their sandwiches.
This is a wonderful book with some unusual and rustic Italian dishes. He loves broccoli (brocolli fritti, brocolli lasagne) and fresh salads ( chilli calamari and radicchio salad, egg, white anchovies and pancetta salad and ocean trout, citrus, mango and peach salad) , chicken dishes (chicken and muscatel, pictured below) and my very favourie, asparagus, gorgonzola and lemon risotto. If you can, buy this book.