Peter Demaio has been collecting traditional Italian recipes for a very long time. And sharing them with his friends for just as long. But when he shares a recipe with you, he just does not give you a scrap of paper with some instructions on it.
He serves out lashings of culture and stories about it all, and, if you’re just a little bit lucky, he goes to his pantry and he lets you taste what you are going to make in the recipe. Then the wine comes out, and then the bread, then more, different wine, and variations on the original recipe and before you know it, the night’s gone. And you’ve gone home happy.
If you ask him for a recipe for something he doesn’t know how to make– no problema– before you know it, he will have sourced two or three recipes from his wide contacts both here and in Italy. And he may even make the stuff with you, as in my case when I asked him how to make “Tonno sott’olio” (tuna in oil).
Before I knew it, I found myself with him at Footscray Fish Market at 4am one chilly morning buying a 50Kg yellowfin tuna. That very same night, the two of us were chopping this magnificent fish into cutlets, and simmering it in salty water for hours in a pot on his BBQ in his backyard. Next morning, we were hard at it again, bottling the tuna with aromatic and colourful additions and olive oil, sterilizing it and stashing it away in the cellar.
Peter is obsessed with preserving traditional Italian foods. He is equally obsessed with preserving a tradition of eating, friendship and culture that’s fast disappearing: Slow Food. Peter’s thesis is that good food, family and friends all go in one big pot to help lubricate companionship, friendship, happiness and long life.
I’ll drink to that! Cin Cin!