February 25, 2024 | Rome, Italy

Miss you, Mum

By |2018-09-03T13:33:38+02:00March 26th, 2018|"In Provincia", Memory Lane|
It can be hit or miss when Carnival rolls around.

id you ever forgive your mother for doing that something you found embarrassing or unacceptable? Don’t mums somehow do this all the time?

Mine had a knack for buying me the wrong clothes. She couldn’t resist a good piece of fabric, no matter how terrible the pattern was. One day she came home from shopping with several meters of bright red cotton with white polka dots. The dots were at least one inch in diameter and I was 23 year old. I did not do large polka dots in 1986.

I felt sorry for her. It was expensive material and she was proud of her purchase. I made a dress and wore it when going out with a boyfriend I didn’t particularly like. He didn’t notice, but being a student in a leftist-oriented university in the early 1980s, I was terrified to be seen in that outfit. It would have ruined my reputation among the oh-so-engaged female colleagues in hiking boots and Birkenstocks. Those who thought I belonged to the bourgeoisie.

Later in life, mum took to giving me scarves. Among others, I got a golden and brown silk stole and a green and red Russian wool shawl. I still have them and can’t get myself to wear them because I am not yet 80.

The absolute worst, however, was the Carnival costume she made for me in second grade. I have the photo somewhere but it hurts to look at it. I am standing near a little friend who is masquerading as an odalisque with the most gorgeous pale-green harem pants and matching golden veil. As for me, I’m dressed as a farmer with a bell shaped floral skirt, triangular headscarf and a little white apron with lace around the border. Once again, she bought best quality cotton and even made a copy of the costume for my Barbie doll. I don’t think I have ever felt so mortified in my life.

But mum, you know? I miss you anyway. Badly.

You were one of the best humans the crazy planet ever produced. And though you had no idea what I liked, you always wanted me to look like a princess. You had no future as a fashion designer, but I’d wear any silly dress to have you back now. To have a cup of coffee, eat a slice of cake, and laugh about old times. You’d be 88 this year. You could even wear one of my scarves and you would look so beautiful.

Soft-as-silk olive oil apple cake.

Soft-as-silk olive oil apple cake


  • 2 apples, cored, peeled and sliced paper-thin.
  • 1-teaspoon powder cinnamon.
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon.
  • 3 eggs.
  • 100 ml (scant 1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil.
  • 70 grams (1/4 cup) full fat yogurt.
  • 160 gr (3/4 cup) light brown sugar.
  • 220 gr (1 and 3/4 cup) white stone ground or cake flour.
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated.
  • 2-teaspoon baking powder.
  • 2-teaspoon butter to grease the cake tin.
  • 1-teaspoon brown sugar.


— Toss the apples with the lemon juice and cinnamon. Preheat oven at 180C (350F).

— Using an immersion blender at maximum speed, mix eggs and oil until emulsified. The mixture will resemble a semi-liquid mayonnaise. This will make your cake soft and moist at the same time.

— Transfer eggs and oil in a bowl; add dry ingredients, baking powder and lemon zest. Add the yogurt and incorporate, stirring well after each addition to obtain a thick batter.

— Spread the batter into a 23 cm (9-inch) well-greased cake pan. Arrange the apples slices in the batter standing up. I like to start the apple slices about 1/2 inch apart, then fill in with more apple slices until I’ve used them all. — Sprinkle with brown sugar.

— Bake the cake at for 45-50 minutes, or until golden and dry in the middle. Don’t forget the coffee and please, give your mum a kiss on my behalf.

About the Author:

Letizia Mattiacci wrote the "In Provincia" column from 2011 through 2019.