The speech I made at my mother’s funeral:

My mother would be very pleased to see the turn up. She always said friends were very important and there are a lot of friends here today. Although I think she is probably a little busy at the moment. As everyone here knows, she had a passion for cooking.

In fact it’s one of the things that she’ll be remembered for by her grand children. They even gave her home a name. They called it “McNonna’s”.

You see, this is what I think she’s doing right now. She’s sitting with Ray Crock, who made a little burger place called McDonalds famous. They’re talking about opening a series of restaurants.

The first will be in central heaven. The sign “McNonna’s” will be in lights, shining brightly across town. And there’ll even be a drive through, because as you know everyone in heaven has a Ferrari.

I got thinking about this a couple of days when Gabrielle found this (hold up a small note pad of my mother’s recipes). She had accidentally found it. A few years ago I asked my mother to write down a few of my favourite recipes. And here they are (hold up the pad):

  • Lasagne
  • Ravioli di Ricotta
  • Pasta a Fieno
  • Penne a Gambretti
  • Torta di Ricotta

This is the bit I don’t understand. There’s no secret herbs and spices, no exotic ingredients. She didn’t keep her recipes to herself,but was very gracious with her time and help. They’re very simple.

My favourite, The Torta di Ricotta includes things like:

  • a couple of cups of self-raising flour
  • 5 spoonfuls of milk
  • 150gm of butter
  • 100gm of sugar
  • two eggs
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • and a tub of ricotta

You make the base.

And then you mix together the ricotta, the eggs, add a small cup of black coffee, the cinnamon, vanilla, grated lemon rind and small bits of chocolate. “Dopo butarla sulla pasta preparata e mette sopra le mandorli e canella.”

Put it in the oven for half an hour at 180.

Sounds pretty easy. So what was so special?

Why could no one else capture that special ingredient that she was able to add? I looked in her cupboards, under the sink, but I never found it.

And then I realised, it wasn’t just a pinch of this or a dash of that. But it was a whole lot of love that was the special ingredient.

So, the Torta di Ricotta would always taste different to me because she knew it was my favourite. The pie for Francesca, the lasagne for Rowena, the pasta for Alex, the biscotti scaurati for my brother, the cotoletti for David, the pizza for Andrew, Simon and Justin would always be special for that special ingredient called love which she knew how to use with the same skill as chef with salt and pepper.

So what is today really about?

It’s not that you miss the pie or the cake or the pasta. You miss the ingredient.

You miss the love.

So, if you make it to heaven as we all will … eventually, I hope to meet you at McNonna’s. I can guarantee the food will be excellent. And I highly recommend the “Torta di Ricotta”.