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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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