The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Eat Out -

En­joy a gin and

con­tin­ues. “We’re so dis­or­gan­ised. We re­ally try, it’s not like we ne­glect what’s hap­pen­ing at school. We get the emails, we write down the notes, but then we just for­get. Our chil­dren turn up on book day not dressed as a book char­ac­ter.

“Or we for­get that we’ve RSVP’D to a birth­day party and then we drive past the house on the way back from some­where else and see the bal­loons. But what can you do?”

With the couple’s ca­reers forc­ing one of them to work away from home on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, it’s usu­ally up to the other to hold down the fort at home. The re­sult is quite of­ten pure chaos, but the ac­tress says, for them, it works.

“It’s not ideal but we have such a fun re­la­tion­ship. I don’t want to paint the pic­ture of the per­fect couple, but mainly it’s re­ally great, lov­ing and sup­port­ive, with the oc­ca­sional, ‘ What the f***’. But I think it’s be­cause we give our­selves a lot of time to pur­sue our own things.”

Col­loca has a lim­it­less en­ergy for tak­ing on new cre­ative projects.

“As much as I truly ad­mire peo­ple who are com­pletely sat­is­fied with be­ing stay-at-home parents, I know that’s just not for me. It’s my lim­i­ta­tion.

“It’s not be­cause I don’t love my chil­dren, be­cause I adore spend­ing time with them, but I just need other things. If that makes me a not-so-good mum, but then over­all makes me a bet­ter per­son, I think that’s OK.”

But she didn’t al­ways have such a mea­sured out­look, ad­mit­ting to suf­fer­ing from the ul­ti­mate mother’s curse of try­ing to be per­fect. In the new cook­book she re­calls or­gan­is­ing her el­dest son’s sec­ond birth­day, where in an at­tempt to cre­ate the best party ever, she made a head-spin­ning four cakes – only to have most of the sponges dis­carded and ic­ing smeared across ev­ery sur­face of the room.

“Striv­ing for per­fec­tion, for the per­fect In­sta­gram post, it’s crazy,” she says. “We re­ally put our­selves into such a tricky cor­ner and then we can’t wrig­gle our­selves out of it. You just have to let that false per­cep­tion of per­fec­tion go.”

Th­ese days the foodie still caters her chil­dren’s par­ties and play dates, but takes to them with a much more sen­si­ble at­ti­tude, serv­ing up wa­ter­melon slices in­stead of cake, or sim­ple dishes she can whip up with ease. She’s also fine-tuned the art of cook­ing for those with di­etary re­quire­ments, like gluten, egg and dairy in­tol­er­ances, call­ing on a vault of clas­sic Ital­ian dishes, which she shares in the new book, along­side other light recipes that help de­bunk the myth that Ital­ian food is heavy and rich.

“The rea­son I loved writ­ing this book was that I didn’t have to cre­ate a recipe out of some­thing ex­ist­ing and adapt it to be gluten-free or ve­gan,” she says. “I don’t make gluten-free pasta. Zuc­chini spaghetti – that’s not pasta. There’s a tra­di­tion in Italy and things are called some­thing and have been called that thing for cen­turies for a rea­son.”

And don’t even get the Ital­ian ex­pert started on su­per­foods. “It’s kind of funny be­cause what is now la­belled as su­per­foods have been around for­ever, but they’ve be­come gen­tri­fied and we now pay a mil­lion dol­lars for them,” she says.

Col­loca be­lieves we’ve all be­gun to over­think food, and hopes her new book will help peo­ple take a more sim­plis­tic ap­proach.

“We’re try­ing to achieve things that a home cook should never feel the pres­sure to achieve,” she says. “Please don’t think that to cook well you have to sous vide stuff or buy a Ther­momix. You don’t need any of that stuff. You need a whisk, a wooden spoon, a knife, a chop­ping board. I have a food pro­ces­sor – that’s it.

“Keep it sim­ple, fresh and healthy, or in­dul­gent, and just buy in sea­son and then you have to do very lit­tle with what you’ve got be­cause it’s just so lovely.” Sil­via's Ital­ian Ta­ble, 8pm, Thurs­day, ABC


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