Monday, October 31, 2011
INGREDIENTS AND TOOLS:
4 lbs ripe tomatoes
3 large cloves of garlic peeled and whole
1 small red onion very finely sliced
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
a generous handful of fresh basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 of a small red chili pepper, dried or fresh
You will need a medium covered stock pot for the tomatoes and a large stock pot for the pasta. You will also need a food mill fitted with the smallest holes. As the food mill is an important tool in the Sicilian kitchen, it is worthwhile to invest in a high quality one such as the Rosle I use in my kitchen, which is pictures here.
PLATING AND SERVING:
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
|Amphoras from the Museo della Nave Punica. |
These amphoras are representative
of those used by Phoenicians for the transportation of goods.
They distinguished themselves not only as merchants and explorers, but through the spread of their written alphabet which is believed to be a precursor of the Greek, Roman, Aramaic and Hebrew alphabet.
Phoenician appeared on the western coast of Sicily sometime around 800 BCE because of Sicily's strategic position. The Mediterranean in antiquity was at the very heart of known civilization and Sicily was located in the heart of the Mediterranean.
The island of Motya was an ideal Phoenician outpost because the surrounding lagoon of Lo Stagnone offered a protected area that could be easily defended
Today Motya is an important archeological site. To visit Motya you can board a ferry for a short but very scenic 15 minute ride from the Salt Museum of Ettore Infersa at Lo Stagnone. Tickets are purchased at a stand adjacent to Mama Caura, a charming espresso bar /restaurant where you can sit and savor a gelato or granita or a glass of local wine. Above Mamma Caura, are apartments--bed and breakfast accommodations which can be booked on a weekly or daily basis. I am told by reliable sources that they are pricey but the views are priceless. If you happen to be there on August 15, the feast of Ferragosto, you can dance and eat and watch fireworks from Mamma Caura.
Among the Phoenicians' many legacies to the modern world, was their knowledge of viticulture or wine making which have survived to the present day. Several ancestral varieties of modern wine grapes in the Mediterranean are attributed to them. As you take your perch on the patio of Mamma Caura, to take in the natural beauty of the salt ponds and the lagoon, you can lift your glass the the impresarios of centuries past.
|Mamma Caura |
where the "traghetto" or ferry to Motya departs.
In the background is the salt museum and Lo Stagnone lagoon.
Ciao a presto!
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Today Lo Stagnone is a protected reserve and visitors may swim or use flat-bottom boats but fishing is no longer allowed. With progress (and heightened tourism) came a need to protect its fragile ecosystem for future generations.
I would add a post-script here. It is quite interesting to me that life has brought me full circle in so many ways. Today my husband and I live on edge of one of the most beautiful lagoons in the world. Each morning we step outside and breathe in the salty marsh air, the very air of Lo Stagnone--a fragrance that is seared in my soul--and I smile in recognition.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
|Sunset at the Saline Ettore Infersa |
taken from the ferry landing to the island of Motya
"Cu' voli puisia venga in Sicilia" (collected proverbs Giuseppe Pitre')
An ancient Sicilian proverb says, "if you are searching for poetry, come to Sicily". In Sicily, poetry is everywhere. It's in the air, perfumed with orange blossoms and salt and a faint but unmistakeable hint of spices of the Levant; it's in the warmth of the sun, and the intensity of its colors-- red oleanders, cobalt waters and ocher sands. Like Odysseus called by the sirens' songs, the island casts an inescapable spell on travelers.
|My sons fishing at San Vito Lo Capo, Trapani|
As a child, following our initial move to the United States, my mother and I would return to Sicily every summer until the start of school year. With each return, the memory of stepping off the plane at Punta Rais airport in Palermo is imprinted in my psyche. I vividly recall being greeted by the intoxicating fragrances of the island, the smell of sea and salt and spice. Descending the plane's stairs to the tarmac below, a wave of soft warm air embraced me as if to welcome me home.
One memory in particular stands out for me. The very first time we returned to Sicily, my mother and I stepped off the plane to find our entire family waiting for us--some 60 people or more! They had rented buses and come to the airport to welcome us back, and, amid tears and kisses and embraces, my mother and I rediscovered our homeland and re-connected to our souls.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Welcome to my new blog. I have had the good fortune in my life to have lived in two countries, Italy and the United States, and to have been culturally part of each. Although my travels have taken me far from my native city of Marsala, I remain deeply connected to it through my love of my homeland and family and of the richness of Sicilian life. I arrived in the United States at a time when the "melting pot" theory of American integration was still an ideal to be achieved. Happily, I confess to you that I did not meet that standard. My sense of self as native Italian woman, my love of the Italian language and of our Sicilian dialect, both of which I speak fluently, my love of the Sicilian culinary world and the many traditions that define it, and of the enchantment of everyday life in Sicily --these all are things I have kept sacred throughout my life, as all connect me to a world of great depth and beauty which I have had the good fortune to know intimately and which I hope to share with you. In this blog, I would like to bring my Sicilian world to you; my memories growing up in a beautiful baroque city--a jewel on the sea, made famous by ancient Phoenician, Greek and Saracen people; my experience of life in Sicily today, and the delicious recipes and culinary traditions associated with my island and of course the amazing people of Sicily whose warmth, intelligence, creativity and love of life is unsurpassed anywhere in the world. The picture above is of the salt works Saline Ettore Infersa in a neighborhood of Marsala known as Birgi, barely a kilometer or two from where I was born. The ancient salt trade continues to this day. But more about that later...
My blog is dedicated to one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known, my husband, Michael Volkov, who shares my love of Sicily and of all things Italian and who deeply understands the beauty and spiritual nourishment that comes from the embrace of a loving people. To whatever shore this life may take me, his love will always be my true home.
I am excited by the opportunity to bring the beauty of Sicily to my readers. I hope you are able to share my joy and excitement. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and sharing your experiences as well as we embark on this journey.
Ciao a presto!