Contribute to the needs of the holy ones,
Bless those who persecute you,
bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
weep with those who weep.
Have the same regard for one another;
do not be haughty but associate with the lowly;
do not be wise in your own estimation.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil;
be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.
If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.
Romans 12:1-2, 9-18
This was the second reading we chose for our Wedding Mass. I don't remember much of that day other than the happiness of finally being united before God... We had five priests at our wedding and each had a little something to say to us mostly about being fruitful and multiplying and with six children so far I think they'd approve. They also invited us to open our house without reservations and that also has I think been done.
More than any other words from our wedding day I remember that invitation to exercise hospitality and from the first day we arrived in our little home... we have been blessed continuously with both children and guests. We have practised hospitality sometimes by our own choice and sometimes... because God wanted us to.
I was often worried that we didn't have enough money to entertain or feed others beyond our own family but Pierpaolo always assured me that we could cut elsewhere but never pass up the opportunity to be hospitable. This has stood us in good stead ever since.
1. What's your go-to "someone's coming over" recipe?
Our go-to recipe is a real one-off that can't be found in any cook books or websites so every guest has never had it before (and I'd like to keep it that way!). It's a recipe that was described to me by a cousin's grandmother in Sicily and believe me it's delicious. I'm from Sicily therefore I'm a fan of slow food. Sicilian cuisine doesn't use expensive or complicated ingredients but it takes simple things and invests time and care in them and makes them special. Our favourite recipe is extremely labour-intensive and time-consuming but I think it's a way of showing love to your guest. The recipe involves aubergine rolls filled with pasta and ricotta - if you want more details you'll have to come over for dinner.
2. You have 5 minutes to tidy before guest arrive. What are your tidying shortcuts?
I'm afraid that I have a tendency towards OCD and I keep the house in permanent order (in so far as six children allow). My husband's grandmother used to tidy her house spotlessly every night before going to bed just in case someone in the family felt unwell and the doctor had to visit during the night. (I think if you called the doctor nowadays in the UK you'd have plenty of time to tidy up!)
I have a bit of a cushion fetish so before people arrive sofa cushions need to be plumped up and in position. I also always have the table laid before people arrive, it gives us more time to spend quality time with guests.
3. What sort of music sets the mood for the perfect gathering?
For us music is what comes naturally after dessert. A guitar or a pianist will magically appear and music begins. My father in law is often at table with us and the classical Neapolitan repertoire (O Sole Mio, O surdato innamorato etc) inevitably follows then Spanish, Irish, English according to the mood and guests.