Have you watched the movie Fifth Element? For those who have, remember the scene when Liilou is confronted by alien life? She has trouble breathing as she takes in the scene of an unfolding frenzied city. Point being, we had a few Liilou moments of our own when venturing the very unconventional and idiosyncratic land known as Sicily. .
Dropping the hire car at the airport early, we decided to hop on a bus and spend one our last days in Sicily’s capital of Palermo as the chaos of driving through the labyrinth had left us on edge. I thought I was well equipped to handle the high level of energy Italians seem to thrive at, fuelled by shots of neat black heart racing coffee, and a manic lifestyle while sharing the same background, I was wrong. Everything regarding Sicily was intensely emotional from the history, food to the views to the traffic and Palermo was no exception. Perpetual and mind boggling ancient streets tightly packed with blocks of noisy residential layers complete with quintessential laundry drying from the romantically decaying balconies. At ground zero, disorganised shops and business spilling out into the streets while goading down on this unruly scene are the soaring Norman Byzantine Cappella Palatina and several Cathedrals from the 12 century. This city is action packed with new marvels at every corner. Gravitated towards the taboo yet enticing backstreet markets, operating much the same for centuries, our senses were immediately overwhelmed. Feeling like time travellers and reversed back a few eons, only to be confronted with pungent odours collaborating with the spectacle of fish mongers washing blood and entrails of unrecognisable sea creatures, down blocked prehistoric ruined gutters. Trays of mint and oil marinated sheep heads staring blindly and awaiting their fate in the hopefully salmonella killing ovens and baskets of disorderly snails trying to make a crawl to freedom as their keepers pluck them back into their fate leaving silvery trails over all other the goods for sale. A comatose alcohol merchant either sleeping or expired on top of his wares had us hurrying past and while trying to avert the kid’s eyes, we ourselves were completely distracted by the representatives of every conceivable human race present selling every conceivable trade good imaginable. We were not in the position to purchase anything as we were leaving the next day but I did manage to stuff a tiny cow print espresso coffee machine into our already overweight luggage. We meandered for hours along this mesmerising scene and our surprise destination was a grandiose wedding of affluent Sicilian family within the 15th century Baroque Chiesa di Santa Maria di Gesu.
Unfortunately the bride was totally eclipsed by the breath taking interior of black and white marble base reliefs crowned by the glorious seventeenth century painting of St Luke by Ignazio Marabitti. While just sitting and marvelling at this most wondrous of environs, we gratifyingly understood our senses had now been saturated soaked and fully sedated. It was with this feeling of completeness we disembarked Sicily. Upon our return to Rome and while sharing our wide eyed and colourful stories with the Italian family, my mother laughed and casually slapping me on my shoulder and remarked. “its life..get into it.”
Pasta Con La Bottarga
150gms Tuna Roe
2to 3 Cloves Garlic
Boil pasta in plenty salted water. Heat oil in pan saute garlic then stir in the roe and crush. Drain pasta, add roe parsley and chilli.
Alcamo or Etna Vino Novello
The Leopard Giuseppe Tomasidi Lampedusa
The Sicilian Mario Puzo
Sicilain Cooking Eufemia Azzolina Pupella