Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
- learnt several Italian salutations
- met some of my students
- become known at the Altro Posto, where he is already affectionately called "James Bond" [which is rather appropriate, really]
- made friends with Simi [despite the "chair" battle, which she is likely to win!]
- scaled a terrifyingly high fence in order to use a shortcut to my apartment
- walked down to Modica Bassa and back
- chipped a tooth [on the hard Modican bread, before you all get ideas!]
Welcome to the real Sicily, James.
Monday, May 26, 2008
And now Simi wants a word:
Happiness Finding Welshcakes
Yes, very true - Simi and I are "negotiating" the same chair but I'm sure we'll come to an arrangement to suit us both. Currently munching on focaccia bread and have one too many whiskies on board but I can tell you, in all sincerity, one thing:
Sicily and Welshcakes are wonderful, in no particular order.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Much fun with a business student as we were tackling a unit entitled “How to Compromise” and working out how to compose a letter to a valued client who has not paid for services recently provided. “If you do not pay me next week we kill you”, suggested the student cheerfully. “Well”, said I, “that may be the direct Sicilian approach but what we need here is a bit of British indirectness”. Finally we got there, producing a round-the-gasworks epistle full of “woulds”, “shoulds”, “coulds” and phrases like “Please be so kind as to…” The student was amazed to learn that such a mild letter can seem quite threatening to the recipient!
We have rubbish piling up in the streets again: what a welcome for the tourists who are starting to arrive!
Ladies, as I replied to a commenter yesterday I haven’t espied Mr Gorgeous or Mr Elegantissimo at the Altro Posto recently but one of the regulars today was a sight to gladden your heart. Let me describe his attire: snappy black suit, pink and white large-checked shirt, pink and maroon silk tie [with gold tie-clip] and the most elegant white pointy shoes you ever saw on a man. When he dashed in with an unlit cigar in his mouth everyone looked more than twice!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Auguri to all our readers from Welshcakes and Simi xx
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
A lovely, long, leisurely lunch at Linda, Gino and Chiara's today and it was one of those relaxed , happy occasions that the Italians do so well, with the age of the guests ranging from 4 months to 87 years. Our creative Chiara, as only she can, came up with this delightful starter of spiedini of cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, slices of hard cheese, cotognata [quince paste] melon and other fruits. I'll be copying these, Chiara! Then there was pasta cooked simply with the zest of lemons picked this morning. We then went Italo-British, with whole chickens that had been roasted on pancetta, the slices of pancetta being served with some very British roast potatoes. For dessert there was a lemon cake baked by one of the incomparable aunts, ice cream -pastry things from a pasticceria and Chiara's wonderful home-made strawberry ice cream.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
It was my fault yesterday as I lingered too long at home during the long lunch break [which I don’t usually have these days] and, of course, once I relax and cuddle up with my Simi I don’t want to bestir myself and go out again! So I didn’t get to Raffaele’s at 3 – 3.30 pm as planned, but at 4 pm. By then it was quite busy there and I asked him if he could get me “done” before 5, as I had a class then. “No problem”, he replied. I then settled down to read his magazines as usual, reader, but was beginning to panic by 4.30. “Ce la facciamo - we’ll do it”, promised he. Finally, at 4.40, I asked him if he could just do a comb-through and he repeated, “We’ll do it”, this time adding a “Won’t we?” to anyone in earshot. Then he burst out laughing as I checked my watch against his clock, explained again that I couldn’t risk being late and that I had to get across to work which would take 4 minutes from the second I left the salon. This last caused more fits of laughter as the idea of being precisely on time for anything, let alone a little early, is regarded as utterly eccentric here. “OK, OK, a comb-through it is”, he conceded in the end so I left feeling able to face the world and my classes at 4.55 pm.
Today I went there for a proper blow-dry at 1pm [they work through the siesta hours on Fridays and Saturdays] and, as I had to be back at work by 2.30, began to wonder if we would even manage it today. “Oh yes, we will !” exclaimed Raffaele, uttering the welcome instruction “Fai lo shampoo a Pat” to one of his assistants at 2.05. "Pat, my dear Welsh lady", [I have trained him not to say "English"] "you used to relax here but now you look at your watch all the time", lamented my lovely Raffaele. I must do something about this worrying tendency, reader.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
I am glad to be able to report that the rubbish has been collected [for now].
Sunday, May 11, 2008
I do love revamping some of my stalwart recipes from the UK by adding Sicilian ingredients: thus the addition of a little fresh Sicilian orange juice [as a substitute for flavoured balsamic vinegar which you cannot find here] and some slices of Sicilian blood oranges make all the difference to this salad:
Put 1 - 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a bowl. [Here I have used 1 chicken breast plus some chicken thigh fillets, as I had some of the latter in the freezer.] Chuck over about 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and the orange juice, if using. Cover and let it marinate for about 2 hours. Drain a can or jar of antipasto artichokes, reserving about 1 tablespoon of the oil. Then, in a small bowl, whisk together about 4 more tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 tablesp. honey, the artichoke oil and 3 tablesp. extra-virgin olive oil. Add some dried oregano, season and chill. Heat 2 -3 tablesp olive oil in a frying pan. Add the chicken and cook until there are no pink juices when tested with a fork. [Turn the chicken several times during cooking - about 20 mins in all.] As soon as the chicken is cool enough to handle, slice it thickly and place in a serving bowl with the artichokes, orange slices and a good quantity of interesting salad leaves [include rocket, if possible]. Drizzle the dressing over and serve at once. You need only some good bread to accompany this.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
I know I keep saying that the friendships you make through blogging are amazing but I do believe it's true: this morning this lovely, clever fridge magnet from Anne arrived and nothing could have cheered me up more. She made it herself and I do envy really creative people. Thank you, Anne.
Leslie has a meme which I found interesting; you have to answer each question with one word only, so here goes:
Your significant other? Dog
Your hair? Colourneedy
Your mother? Saintly
Your father? Generous
Your favourite thing? Reading
Your dream last night? Forgettable
Your favourite drink? Cointreau
Your dream/goal? Security
The room you’re in? Booklined
Your ex? Bastard!
Your fear? Dementia
Where do you want to be in six years? Around!
Where were you last night? Home
What you’re not? Conventional
One of your wish list items? Emerald
Where you grew up? Didn't!
The last thing you did? Cooked
What are you wearing? Lipstick!
Your TV? Off
Your pets? Family
Your computer? Misbehaving
Your life? Busy
Your mood? Changeable
Missing someone? Often
Your car? What?
Something you’re not wearing? Glasses
Favourite Store? Rinascente
Your summer? Hot!
Like someone? Umm...
Your favourite colour? Blue
When is the last time you laughed? Today
Last time you cried? Yesterday
I don't tag but will be glad to read you if you want to do this meme.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Monday, May 05, 2008
If you would like an unusual and interesting holiday this year, why not come and learn Italian at the English International School? I guarantee that you will have fun! Please click here for more details.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Some of you will know that I had a run-in with the NHS during my mother’s last illness, and the last thing you need at such a time is to be regarded as an idiot or not to be believed. So Calum’s story strikes at my heart. Why, oh why, I have been asking myself since 1993, is it seemingly “OK” if you break your leg, because everyone can see the wound and the plaster, but if you are elderly or suffering within your very soul, you are suddenly not even worthy of respect, let alone proper attention?
I have to say that I do not think that this would happen in Italy. I hope I am right.
Calum , I feel for you and Mrs Carr and will do all in my power to help you.
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Friday, May 02, 2008
Thursday, May 01, 2008
The newer [inaptly named] “welcome” centre on Lampedusa is already overwhelmed: it was built to house 600 people and was accommodating 800 by Tuesday. During Mon – Tues night more than 500 desperate clandestini had disembarked. There was a tragedy at the weekend when an inadequate boat got into trouble in Maltese waters: the Italian military sent out a rescue boat and two males did not follow the soldiers’ instructions for transfer to the Italian boat, diving into the sea instead – whether by accident or because they were afraid no one knows. Two brave soldiers dived in after them but one of the clandestini was swept away.
Yesterday 250 clandestini were transferred from Lampedusa to other Italian detention centres and 3 more boatloads, carrying more than 350 people, have been intercepted off Lampedusa today. Another is known to be on its way.
I do not know what the solution to this tragic situation is, for no European country can accommodate all who wish to come. Yet, during my more sleepless nights, I think of these boatloads of sadness and of what terrible circumstances – of which, admittedly, I know nothing – can lead their human cargo to take such risks.
However, I did manage to get over to the Altro Posto at lunchtime, and yet another new waitress had obviously been told to expect me and instructed in the art of mixing a fine g & t. It’s good to be known somewhere like that and treated as a “local”. It means a lot to me.
Now, I have decided that I again need a cleaning lady, reader, as I don’t have the energy to spring –clean myself. It just so happens that the other day, when Simi and I were out, a kindly –looking lady stopped us and made a fuss of Simi. “I see you every day, signora, and because you are so blonde, I know you are not from here. I have often wondered about you.” None of this was said nosily or intrusively – she seemed to be genuinely interested [as, indeed, many people I meet seem to be]. Then I got the remark which I have related to you before, and I repeat it somewhat embarrassedly: “What?! Not married?! Una bella signora come Lei! But why?!!” [I wish I knew, reader!] Anyway, finally she asked me to let her know if I needed any jobs done around the house, as she lives nearby and is looking for a little work. My instinct, which is usually good, tells me that I can trust this lady as she seems to be well known by all around here. But of course, as usual, I will have to have a good clean-up before I can even think of inviting a cleaning lady round!
Finally, here is a little snippet to cheer you all up: according to a survey published today, the Italians are the most sexually contented people in Europe. [I don’t know why anyone had to commission a survey – I could have told them that!] Surprisingly, the Brits are second and the French third. Haven’t I always said that the Italians have discovered the secret of living a happy life?