A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: LaurendeMatt

I'm not contagious

We are excited for our trip to Australia. Two years in the making, one year delayed.
The very moment the seat-belt fasten light dinged off and we were free to move about the cabin, my unknown seat mate excused himself. He never returned. I'm wondering if I offend? Do I intimidate? You be the judge...

Donning my finest mask-ery, maybe it would be polite to announce my non-contagiousness. No matter, it gave us an extra square foot to spread out. After all, we are flying half-way around the world!


Almost there...

Posted by LaurendeMatt 16:00 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Are We Related?

Making first impressions in Australia

12 °C

27 hours later, we were there. In Griffith, the small town of mythic proportions. From the window of our third and last plane, Matthew pointed, "I see Angelo". I looked out and saw an Italian man and a small boy. I followed m to the small crowd. He went right for Emilia, I stopped a bit short of the awaiting clan to the known entity. I approached "Angelo" and said "hi! It's nice to meet you!" He smiled, but dismissively looked past me. Thinking twice before going in for the Euro kisses, I awkwardly asked if we were related. He replied "no" and the entire group of real relatives laughed for the next 10 minutes. L gives a great first impression.

We sat at Emilia's lunch counter and ate. The lunch was perfect: a pile of mortadella, ham, prosciutto, homegrown marinated artichokes by D (Diomira), Tony's brother Dom's wife, tomato slices and whole mustard seeds on a slice of white bread. And coffee. 4C33A0EF0A3AFEB1198967C9D346D8B0.jpg

Short walk in neighborhood. Well maintained landscaping. Checked with Emilia, no poisonous snakes here.

The night started and ended with some Johnny Q Moscato, with some of Dom's homebrew and green haze in the middle.

The 11 of us - (name game: Emilia, Coreene, Jacqueline, Alessia, Christopher, Christian, us, Ross, Angelo, and Annalisa) sat around the big table for the famous DeMatteis lasagna, followed by veal cutlets, peas and carrots, and salad, followed with grapes and olives and salami - the pig from Dom and his famous fridge - Annalisa's cup cakes, Emilia's ricotta pie. Alessia provided the musical portion, serenading us with two songs.

And then came the centerba.
Liquore Centerba. Toro.
Angelo says it is made with 100 herbs.
It must be good for you then, right?

Emilia disappeared for a spell, returning with a small green bottle, packaged up italian-rustic-cute with the wicker basket bottom.
Emilia insisted, "It evaporated. I never opened it."
Coreene asked, "How come one label's here and the other's going this way?"

Despite Emilia's concern for our safety, Ross poured just enough so the kelly green liquid covered the glass bottom and created a nice green haze. Something about pickled tonsils... it could degrease Angelo's walnut machine. Lauren cautioned, "Don't light a match near me, I am flammable." Ross complimented Matthew for being a whole Toro while he was merely a half toro. We are all meeting in Ripa next summer. Bring a sleeping bag and a bottle.

Posted by LaurendeMatt 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged griffith Comments (0)

DiSalvo Family Tour of Griffith


The DiSalvo family gave us a grand tour of Griffith. We caravanned in two cars, Ross drove one, Jaqueline the other. It is hard to grasp any town was established in 1916. We ended at the Lake where we petted a very friendly and itchy caged Galah, which are really sharp-looking pigeons with pink breasts. L was fascinated by them until she heard their squawking. Also caged was Don King's bird incarnate. Ross spun tales of the "Grass castles" and the people who live there (or are now 6 feet under or serving 5-10...). Cruised through Angelo's farm and ended at the Rocks, the highest elevation for a long, long distance. It is a great vantage point to see how flat New South Wales is, and an inspiration point. M was looking for Potsy-n-Ralph mouth. 4C350AD0BF785685E3C9971B1D52287B.jpg

The Club. Griffith Leagues Club. Table for 21. This Club is where it is at. The Club is the social nucleus. Everyone who is anyone goes. There are 5 in Griffith, well, four, one burnt down. Emilia is a member at 3: one for Bochi, one for something else, and this one for the food and the pokies.

Aussies like their Pokies. Matthew does too. Lauren doesn't because she loses. But when in Rome, do as the Aussies do. Pushing the button over and over and over again. With each push, just a few cents. Thirty cents here, two dollars there. The excitement makes you forget you are losing. $30 lost in 15 minutes? I thought the Australian themed pokie spoke to me and was apropos.
But those kangaroos, dingos, cockatoos and crocodiles just would not line up. the sounds are so optimistic, surely I will win next time...The pokie psychology must be a uni major.

Matthew had better luck, winning $86. He cashed out, but then slipped the ticket back in, inspired by Jaqueline's winning and the Carlos-inspired pokie "More Chilies!". within minutes the pokie was gonging and gonging and gonging and gonging and gonging... 19 gongs. He won 8 silver-gong free spins and 11 bronze-gong free spins. Surely this meant thousands! M smiled, "First class home, honey". Although not thousands, Matthew pocketed $280. Not bad. However, amateurs to Sylvia's quadruple that.

Posted by LaurendeMatt 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged griffith Comments (0)

Pig Porn


Angelo, Ross, Dom's neighbor Dennis, and Tony's son Adamo all went to brush the mold off the salami. We were asked if we'd like to tag along. Yes please! Although disappointed to miss the pig slaughter by two weeks, it was a close second to see the curated pig meat process. There were salamis and pancettas hanging from the rafters and huge hunks o'prosciutto soaking in salt on the table.
It was an assembly line production: Angelo and Adamo snipped off the string, Dennis and Ross scrubbed off the mold, and our job was to hang it back on the pole. Each casing had a color-coded florescent tag, with a name and a date.
We helped for about 2 minutes, then Dom came home and brought us in to the house to have tea with D, and eat her homemade pizelles. Lauren looked to Matthew to translate what Dom said. She felt foolish when she realized he was speaking English.

Before leaving the shed, we made sure to take several pictures for Alfeo. Matthew entitled this photo essay: Pig Porn.

Emilia invited everyone over for afternoon coffee and something sweet. This casual affair brought 26 people, and enough food for ten times that. From Great-Zia Dominica to Luca, a second-cousin-once-removed. Every surface was covered with platters of freshly killed salami and asiago and parmesans, chocolate cakes and ricotta cakes... and then the wines, a vintage bottle Emilia found under the stairs (not potable, even to Matthew), chocovin, Dom's homebrew. The men sat outside on the patio, the women around the table and the kids on the sofa with their devices.

Let's see, there were first cousins Coreene plus 3 and Annalisa plus 3. there were first cousins once removed: Lucy and Emily, Rosella and Toni (and we'll meet the third, oldest sister Mary later) with their children, second cousins: acting Elena and boarding school Jack. We also met sweet Sylvia's daughter Adele and her son Luca. Emilia's Tony's brothers: Dom and Ferucio both came with wives D and Lucy and Tony's son Adamo came with wife Teresa and daughter Claudia. Everyone took turns posing for a photo with us.

After the day-eating at Emilia's, we moved on to night-eating at Angelo and Annalisa's for pizza and the D'Aquino family homebrew. I tried Hawaiian pizza for the first time in Australia.

After 62 years of marriage. Dom on D: "You're bloody heavy" as he lovingly massaged out her leg cramp. D on Dom: "He's happy, he has a salami to cut".

Posted by LaurendeMatt 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged griffith Comments (0)

Driving Lessons


We spent our Sunday morning lazily about Emilia's couch watching old family videos. 6 hours of wedding video à la Corinne and Ross from the lacy, mustached early nineties.

Auntie whipped up a little lunch: just some veal-filled tortellini with bolognese sauce and then some sausage and bread, and then grapes... It may be a good time to start thinking about walking farther than between the house door and the car door.

We decided to rent a car and drive from Griffith to Melbourne. It'll be an adventure! Ross and Coreene picked us up for Aussie driving 101. After 23 years of driving on auto-pilot, it will take concentration to undo. They drive on the left and they have roundabouts instead of stop lights. The town of Griffith has exactly one stop light, a new addition in February 2010.

Ross DiSalvo Driving School
Stay left. Always look right. Heed speed limits or you'll get a booking. 50 kph in town, 80-100 in between towns. Use left blinker to exit roundabout. But remember, the blinker isn't on the left, the wipers are. Blinker is on the right. Use it always to exit roundabout or you'll get a booking, but only in New South Wales; in Victoria it's not a law.


We stopped to switch drivers and for cappuccino and wedges: an Australian delicacy of fried potato wedges with sour cream and red chili sauce dip.

Chinese for dinner. Table for 12 please. We ran into D and Dom.


Back to Emilia's for coffee and something sweet. We swapped engagement stories while watching Mr. Bean.

Posted by LaurendeMatt 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged griffith Comments (0)

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