Hierdie is die LitNet-argief (2006–2012)
This is the LitNet archive (2006–2012)
Paul Murray - 2010-03-02
Anna Magnani takes the main part in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s masterpiece Mamma Roma (1962). She takes on the job of a sex worker to make ends meet, in the meantime deciding to give up her son because she struggles to bear the ignominy. Sixteen years later, now in the pound seats, she resumes life with her son ... but it does not work out and the closing scene shows her staring out the window from the apartment on to the Vatican.
Only a true artist could write such a story, as the writer of one of the reviews suggests: “Pasolini again weaves an undercurrent of religion, politics and philosophy under the surface of his filmic parable.”
Cape Town’s history of Italian restaurants goes back in time, to Rossi’s, La Fontana, Hildebrand on the Foreshore, and more recently, by comparison, Chris Barnard’s La Vita in Newlands, now replaced by the exquisite Mamma Roma. As at the time when Barnard and Aldo Novato owned La Vita, still today each patron at Mamma Roma is seated at his/her own Caesar Chair. You feel special when you eat there, like Caesar (or Cleopatra).
Figure 2. A typical Caesar Chair. Each chair at Mamma Roma is a Caesar Chair. (Photo credit – Google Images)
The contribution from the proprietors Romano and Cristina Gorrini and their family is considerable, considering that today in Cape Town and environs there are no fewer than six successfully operating Mamma Roma restaurants. They themselves own three and husband, wife, daughter and son-in-law personally work in them on a day-to-day basis, ensuring the finest in quality and service for patrons ― a quality assurance that’s almost two decades old.
It takes one back to the original Mamma Roma in Stellenbosch, established in 1985 by Romano. When the opportunity to come to Cape Town arose, Romano applied the true Italian philosophy: “Carpe Diem” (“Seize the day”), although one can be sure that, contrary to the whole quotation (“Carpe diem quam minime credula postero” – “Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future”), they certainly put their trust in the future. It’s all been a huge success, as one can clearly see from so many Mamma Romas having mushroomed all over Cape Town (five in and around the city and one in Stellenbosch).
Freudians would say it’s all about the emblem, the little Romans being suckled by the she-wolf, Rhea Silvia, that attracts the patrons!
Figure 5. The mother she-wolf suckling the two Romans Romulus and Remus. (Photo credit – Google Images)
A favourite is the braised lamb shank at Mamma Roma in Bo-Kaap – it must have been cooking all day.
I thought I would try to make some and came across Chef Jim White’s recipe (slightly adapted), reproduced here ready for readers to try in winter (enough for two). Instead of the Sirah we use Shiraz.
6-8 lamb shanks
Then, in a sauté pan heat:
2 Tbs. butter
2 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
4 cups sliced mushrooms
Sauté until well glazed and add to already braised shanks. Stir well, cover and put in the oven for an additional ½ hour.
Serve with rice.
Jim White’s Casa Vieja
4541 Corrales Rd
Corrales, NM 87048
The World Cup Soccer champions will soon be flocking to Cape Town to defend their title, and so will thousands of Italian fans following them ... And since it is well known that Italians like to eat a la italiana even when away from home, they would have had to go a long way to find what they are used to way back home, were it not for Mamma Roma. That’s what’s special about Mamma Roma – Italian dishes just like Mamma makes them ... Italian cooking genius at its best.