25 March 2022

Local businesses rally to host Italian Tomato Day for better mental health

| Sophia Brady
Nonna Rosa Lanzetta holding tomatoes

One of the expert local Italian nonnas, nonna Rosa Lanzetta. Photo: Botanist Creative.

Hands up if you have ever wanted to take part in Tomato Day, the iconic Italian tradition of making and bottling homemade passata sauce? Here, Canberra, is your chance.

Fresh produce delivery service Alpha Fresh is teaming up with celebrated local cafe Fox & Bow to host an Italian Tomato Day on Sunday 27 March at Farrer shops.

Aptly named Let’s Talk Tomatoes, the event will raise funds and awareness for mental health charity Let’s Talk.

Activities kick off at 1 pm in the alley adjacent to Fox & Bow at the Farrer shops, with live interactive demonstrations from local Italian nonnas on how to make and bottle home made passata sauce using specially grown ‘sauce’ tomatoes, sourced by Alpha.

Tomatoes being crushed into passata

Take part in Tomato Day, the iconic Italian tradition of making and bottling homemade passata sauce. Photo: Botanist Creative.

The demonstrations are free of charge and open for all to attend. You can even purchase the bottled sauce on the day.

Once the bottles have been packed away at 5 pm, a ticketed dinner will begin in the laneway under the stars. For an absolute steal price of $20 per person, guests will be treated to antipasti from local deli Tutto Delicatessen, fresh authentic pasta from Nonna Maria’s Pasta with a homemade sauce created by Fox & Bow, as well as a house-made Tiramisu for dessert.

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“It’s been far too long since we’ve been able to gather together which we know has had a detrimental effect on our mental health,” Fox & Bow owner Alex Piris says.

“Our communities have never been forced apart for so long. We wanted a reason to bring people together to talk and what better way to do that than over good food?

“February through March is tomato passata season for the Italian community so centring it around sauce making was a no-brainer. After all, this is how people came together to talk about life’s ups and downs. Then, they would enjoy a big bowl of delicious fresh pasta at the end.”

Two men standing in an alleyway

(From left) Giuseppe Iannelli and Alex Piris. Photo: Botanist Creative.

Alex had the idea for the event during a conversation with Alpha Fresh co-owner Giuseppe Iannelli.

“Alex was enquiring about the availability of sauce tomatoes this season. Like everyone, we got onto talking about the ongoing effects of COVID this year and how exhausted we already feel so early in the year,” Giuseppe says.

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“That’s when Alex had the idea to do a community sauce day – an event that gathers people together again over good food and good fun, all in the name of mental health.”

All proceeds will go to Let’s Talk, a foundation involved in a range of community engagement activities to change the stigma associated with mental illness and to build community capacity to support someone with a mental illness in the workplace, school, club or home.

Group of people with tomatoes

Giuseppe Iannelli, Alex Piris, nonna Rosa Lanzetta and Tania Dufty from Let’s Talk. Photo: Botanist Creative.

Let’s Talk Tomatoes is on Sunday 27 March at Fox & Bow Cafe, Farrer shops, commencing with sauce-making demonstrations from 1 pm and ticketed dinner at 5 pm. Tickets to the dinner are limited and can be purchased online.

Those who miss out on sauce-making demonstrations can purchase from a limited batch on Alpha’s home delivery website.

Original Article published by Sophia Brady on Riotact.

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