Sunday, June 29, 2008

IN A SICILIAN COURTYARD ...













... this afternoon 15 or so fortunate people were served a sumptuous feast worthy of the Prince of Salina himself. James and I were lucky enough to have been invited by the hostess, my dear friend Annunziata.

Let me describe the atmosphere: as we arrive, at around 11.30 am., we see a table covered in white linen set up in a cool courtyard area. Grandchildren are there, crawling along the tablecloth towards us and demanding cuddles from these new visitors. We happily oblige and no one worries about the state of the tablecloth subsequently! Then our host offers us a walk around the outside of the property and off we go, grandchild insisting on holding the hands of her newly found zia and zio. Unfortunately I cannot complete the circuit due to my ankle problem, but no one minds when I amble back to the little courtyard on my own. Other guests have arrived during this interval and all greet me, and James, too, when he returns from his expedition; some wander straight outside again, where they enjoy the rolling countryside before us, whilst the women tend to gather in the kitchen, each offering advice about the dishes which are now being cooked in earnest. The aroma from these now makes us both so hungry that we nearly collapse!

Finally, at 1.30 pm., we are all gathered a tavola and the main dishes are triumphantly brought in: there is pollo ripieno [ a famous Sicilian dish of boned chicken stuffed with minced chicken, veal, pork, pecorino cheese and all sorts of other wonderful flavourings], a dish of beautifully cooked rice and a salad of home-grown, organic greens. Just as we feel replete, our hostess brings two dishes of bollito [boiled, mixed meats in a tomato sauce] "just to soak up the rest of the rice", she says. It tastes of lovingly prepared food, of long-ago days when you felt cherished and looked after, and, above all, of homeliness in the best sense of the word.

A little pause ensues whilst we sup the wine that tastes of Sicily and the sun and then out come the dolci [sweet dishes] that we have all brought, among them what I can best describe as Sicilian nut clusters, called brutte ma buone ["ugly but beautiful"]. I must say I found nothing ugly in them and they certainly had a beautiful taste!

Just as poor James was thinking, "This must be the end" [for we had had coffee by now] there appeared dishes of the sweetest apricots either of us had ever partaken of anywhere, a similar dish of plums and mounds of the juiciest watermelon you ever saw!

Even I was thinking, "This must be the end" at this point, but a final delight came in the form of "Giovanella's cake" and I have to tell you it was quite a cake; its deliciousness remains with me as I write.

Oh - I almost forgot! The dessert wine served was an excellent moscato di Noto, which partnered the lovely Sicilian almonds perfectly. James turned out to be very partial to both!

The most amusing part of the day for me - the antics of the grandchildren apart - was our host's demonstration of how votes are counted in Sicily [for the run-off vote between left and right mayoral candidates takes place in Modica today and tomorrow]: "Well", said he, throwing a slice of bread onto a plate, "that's 2 votes". [Another slice then landed on the plate.] "That's 6 and if you turn your back for a moment that's 8!" I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions, reader, but maybe there's veritas in the old Moscato!

17 comments:

CherryPie said...

Sounds like such fun :-) I love to see your different descriptions on how you both enjoyed the occasion.

PS: Thanks for the extra photos ;-)

Lord James Bigglesworth said...

Hope they liked our effort today - this is certainly most entertaining.

Sean Jeating said...

Welsh,
same comment I left at nourishing obscurity. :)

Deborah said...

You are living my dream Welshcakes! Simply lovely!

jmb said...

What a wonderful occasion for you both. Good food and good companions. What more could one ask?

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Thanks for the photos WL. Such a lovely day..very family and friend orientated...

I think you need a bigger house for all your friends that want to visit you :-)to experience the wonders of Modica and Sicily.!!

Trubes said...

Oh Welshcakes that is such a perfect description of the sumptuous feast enjoyed by your lovely friends and family....
It is time you compiled a cookery book with all the wonderful recipes and illustrations that you write about.
I do hope you took a doggie bag home for Simi!

Di.xxx.

P.S. I'm just watching my ever so clever cat Chloe removing a small cotton cloth that was covering her food, to protect it from a few flies that are buzzing around. Now, I wonder if she can put it back on again, when she's finished eating?

Winchester whisperer said...

How's James's Italian coming along?

Nunyaa said...

Sounds like you had a great day Welshcakes, you do not see much of that type of gathering of families much anymore in the western world. How is Ms Simi? :-)

Dragonstar said...

That sounds like such a lovely occasion. Here in Ireland children are treated as treasures as well, and frequently included in celebrations.

Love the description of vote counting!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thnanks, cherrypie. I hope o, too, James. Thanks, Sean. That was a lovely comment. Thank you, Deborah. What more indeed, jmb? Hi, Anne. A bigger house would be nice but I can't see it happening. Thanks, Trubes. Yes, Simi got her little samples. Nice tale of the cats. He is doing rather well, WW. Hi, nunyaa. You don't see many such gatherings in the Uk either, these days. Simi is fine and sends love xx Hi, dragonstar. I think that cultures where the children are always included in the celebrations are the happiest.

jams o donnell said...

That sounds like a wonderful time Welshcakes.. And once again, my lips are smacking at those photos!

Julie said...

It looks and sounds lovely, though a long wait for lunch. I could just eat some of that cake!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, jmas. It was delightful. Julie, I'll send you some via cyberspace!

annechung said...

How very fun, wish I was there, wish I was visiting Sicily again, I gotta visit again real soon. This is the kind of life I want to read about and maybe be a part of it...one day. I love Sicily, been there twice.

sexy momma said...

wow looks yummy! and nice blog you got here ;-)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Ciao, anne chung. I'd be really interested to know where you have visited in Sicily.
Welcome to my blog, sexy momma and thank you for your kind words.

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