A great-grandmother has finally tucked into a pizza after vowing never to touch Italian food after he POW husband was mistreated by Mussolini’s Forces.
Audrey Prudence, 94, ended an astonishing seven decades of boycott the world’s most popular food.
She made the pact with husband Jack after he was released from an Italian camp at the end of the war where he had been almost starved surviving on just a bowl of celery soup a day and forced to work.
He had joined the British Army aged 18 and the Desert Rat was captured by the Germans in North Africa in 1942.
The soldier was well treated at camps in Germany for two-and-a-half years before being transferred to Italy.
But the wartime nurse and Jack, who were married for 63 years, still enjoyed German food such as apple strudel as they said the Germans were “quite polite.”
After Mr Prudence’s death ten years ago aged 89, and the retired dinner lady has slowly embraced spaghetti bol.
But after suffering a stroke in January, Audrey told her granddaughter from her hospital bed “this is it now, I want it to end.”
After making a bucket list eating pizza came top and her choice of a Hawaiian with its ham and pineapple topping proved irresistible as after one bite she admitted she “could not wait to try another.”
Mrs Prudence from Abridge in Essex who has three grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren enjoyed a whole two slices and described the eating experience as “like a whole meal on a big bit of bread.”
Their son retired bus driver Robert Prudence, 62, explained: “My dad was called up to fight in 1939 but he wasn’t captured until around 1942.
“He was captured in Northern Africa – him and a few other foot soldiers found themselves surrounded by the Germans and lots of tanks so they just surrendered.
“He was taken to Germany, then to Italy and was released at the end of the war.”
“They had been married 63 years when he died.”
Granddaughter Emma Coates, 41, added: “My granddad painted the Germans as quite nice, it was just the Italians he didn’t like.
“He was a foot solider and he was 18 when he was captured by the Germans.
“He was there for two-and-a-half years before he was moved to Italy.
“His treatment in Germany was much better – they shared their rations out with him and they let him keep his jewellery.
“But when he was moved to Italy, the Italians took all his jewellery off him, gave him hard labour work and he was made to live on just celery soup once a day.
“He got very malnourished and that caused him a lot of health problems later in life.
“I have this story in my head that he used to tell me of him and his friends trying to escape before the end of the war.
“My granddad used to tell us stories of his terrible treatment while being a prisoner of war in Italy.
“They decided to boycott Italian food because my granddad was treated badly during his time in Italy but they didn’t boycott German food.
“Because she was a nurse in the war herself, my nan said the Germans were actually quite polite because she had to attend to some of them in the war in the UK.
“She thinks the war was silly but she has not got any dislike for the Germans or the Italians now – she still eats German food and she enjoys an apple strudel.
“Since my granddad died, my Nan started to try Italian food.
“She had never had pizza, but decided to try her first ever pizza after her stroke.”
Describing their talks when she visited her nan in hospital, Emma said they made a bucket list of things to do.
She added: “We said there are lots of things you still need to live for and we said there must be things you want to do or try.
“Then she said ‘actually, I have never eaten a pizza – in fact, I don’t think I know what one is.’
“I said ‘you’ve never eaten a pizza?’ and she said it hadn’t occurred to her as she thought it was something you would probably share.
“She loves cheese and when we got talking about it, she was quite excited to try it.
“When she saw it, she said ‘it is like a whole meal on a big bit of bread.’
Emma from Chigwell in Essex who now lives in Buckinghamshire witnessed her Nan’s first bite and said she “couldn’t believe she had resisted for so long.”
The office manager added: “She loved her pizza and cannot wait to try another and she wants the same toppings as before.
“When my sister made it, she burnt the crusts and cut them off so my Nan wouldn’t know.
“But she said it wasn’t cheesy enough for her and that she wants ‘more cheese next time.’
“For now I think she will stick to the ham and pineapple toppings, she likes plain foods and is set in her ways.
“She might like to try a plain cheese pizza next but she said ‘I don’t think I’d like the pepperoni one.'”
“She likes spaghetti bolognese, that was the first thing she tried after my granddad died.
“But her favourite food is still gammon. We take her to lunch every week and she always orders gammon and chips or just a bowl of chips on their own.
“Trying pizza was top of the bucket list. Next has always been ‘a claim to fame’ which I suppose we can cross off after this.
“Also on her bucket list is to reach 100 to get a letter from the Queen – she adores the Royals.”
Mum-of-one Audrey will also be ticking off another item from her wish list by celebrating her 95th birthday at a curry house with a spicy dish.
She will be joined by her whole family including son Robert, granddaughters Emma, Susie and Charlotte, and great-grandchildren Robbie, Taylor, Jack, Lewis, Alfie, Riley, Harry, Albie and Mataya.