When my mother was five she spent 20 days on a boat coming to Australia from Calabria, in the south of Italy. Once settled in her new school, she was picked on by the Aussie kids who called her a wog and made fun of her salami and provolone panini while they ate tidy Vegemite sandwiches. She used to cut school to avoid their taunts.
Stories like these are common among migrants who came to Australia during and after World War II in search of a better life and, no all thar long ago, I too ran into trouble for having olives in my packed lunches in primary school.
Now we see paninis and antipasti every second cafe, Italian regularly polls as this nation's favourite cuisine, and Mediterranean cultures are celebrated in popular festivals.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Brisbane News focus on Italian Week's protagonists
They came in search of a better life and were met with distrust and discrimination. Yet now the Italian and Greek cultures are firmly entrenched in the life of Australia.