Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  8 / 44 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 8 / 44 Next Page
Page Background


| BNE May/June 2016



ost people who have seen

the movie

My Big Fat


(and its

sequel) think it’s a romantic comedy but to

me – and others I know with a Greek family

heritage – it’s more like a documentary of our

life story. We all recognise someone from our

family in the characters on screen. The movie

is so spot on about what it’s like to be a girl in

a Greek family that when I watched it for the

first time I wondered if someone had sent my

journal to the film’s writer, Nia Vardalos. But

surely that’s not possible. Is it?

I was the fourth child to be born in our

family and when my siblings and I were little,

my mother would show her love by stuffing

our faces with food. She’d have a buffet of love

waiting for us at all times and be so proud

when we finished off the mountain of food on

our plates. Of course she had a surefire way

of making us clear those plates – a spectacle

we never got tired of watching over and over

again. She’d grab our empty plate, smash it on

the ground and scream “opa!” then clean it up

... Truly, well almost, except for the smashing

plates thing, we don’t do that ... anymore.

My three older siblings are a lot skinnier

than me, so it was pretty obvious that I was the

favourite and a regular visitor to the buffet of

love. Now I know there’s nothing wrong with

having more cushion for the pushing, I just

wish I had a better excuse for being overweight

than blaming my loving mother. I wish I could

tell people I’ve been five months pregnant for

the past five years and my epic rear cheeks are

twins which kick every time I walk or twerk.

During primary school I realised I was

different to the other kids, particularly at lunch

times. My lunch box had the usual items inside

like sandwiches and fruit but my sandwiches

sometimes had Greek food in them. Nothing

wrong with that, I thought, until some of

my friends freaked out at the pink stuff they

thought was melted strawberry ice-cream

oozing out between the bread slices. I told

them it was a Greek dip called tarama (even

though I didn’t even know what it was made

of back then). When my mother told me it

was made from fish roe that freaked me out,

so I just told my friends tarama was Greek for

strawberry ice-cream.

Kids these days think they have it tough

at school. That’s nothing. When I was at

primary school my mother also made me

go to Greek school on Saturdays so I could

learn Greek language and Sunday School on

Sundays to learn Greek Orthodox ways! I

went to school seven days a week. Plenty of

Greek families still do that today. It’s like a

rite of passage that has continued through

generations – but I decided it wasn’t for me.

I had a plan. Every Saturday and Sunday I

would throw the biggest tantrums before and

after my classes and eventually, surprisingly,

I wore my mother down. No more weekend

classes. It’s still a blessing. Whenever Mum

asks me to do something in Greek I have no

idea what she’s saying.

When I was a teenager I noticed Greek

people tended to stick together, even when

Soulla Porfyriou

didn’t think that growing up

Greek in Brisbane was so unusual until she

started telling funny family stories as ‘Soulla

Pants’ at open mic nights … and found she had a

budding career as a stand-up comedian


fun to be

Soulla Porfyriou photographed by Marc

Grimwade at the Greek Club, West End