It seems I wasn't the only person in Modica to be a little perplexed a few days ago to see "Cioccolato di Modica" advertised in the Lidl leaflet at €1,49 per bar [the usual price being around €2,00]. Some citizens have gone into what I will call "chocoshock" at this underselling of a traditional product of which the city is justly proud and which certainly interests tourists.
It must be said that the chocolate maker who landed the contract had a perfect right to do so, if these bars are being made by traditional Modican chocolate methods, but other chocolate makers and some politicians here feel that it is high time Modican chocolate received Igp [ EU Protected Geographical Indication] status. A dossier applying for this has been in preparation for some time and is said to be "almost" ready [which, given Italian flexibility, could mean tomorrow or five years from now]. Then there will be an interminable wait for a decision.
This is one case in which that plentiful Sicilian quality, pazienza, is likely to melt away.
Chocolate being made to traditional recipes at Bonajuto, Modica
Originally shown at Milan Expo and published on Vimeo in September, the video below has now, with much fanfare, been uploaded to YouTube and is being hailed here as a masterpiece. It is certainly a break with traditional clips promoting Sicily and has been conceived with social networks in mind. The target market is Northern Europe, where people are known to start planning their holidays in January.
I'd very much like to know what all of you think before I divulge my own opinion but I do want to congratulate the Comune di Ragusa for having the courage to do something in a new way and I wish them every success.
Ragusa - easy to reach, hard to leave
Another, shorter version [1m.05] is also available on YouTube.
"Who really knows when a journey towards fulfilment begins? Looking back, I sometimes think that my journey towards the island of Sicily began much earlier than that first visit in October 1992. And, like most of the important events in my life, it began with a book:
I don’t know quite why, browsing in a bookshop in Pinner, North London in 1967, I picked up a paperback entitled The Leopard, a novel byGiuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa......."
This is, of course, the book which inspired the famous 1963 Visconti film starring Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale. Who could ever forget the ballroom scene?
Well, now it has been reported that there is going to be a remake and Miss Cardinale is not happy about it, having asked how anyone can think of making a film version of Il Gattopardo without Luchino Visconti. However, it turns out that the remake is not going to be a remake but a film about Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's life based on David Gilmour's biography The Last Leopard [which I also mentioned in the above article]. That's all right, then ... or is it?
The new film is the brainchild of London-based filmmaker Demian Gregory and will include parts of the novel which were left out of the original film but there is some confusion here about rights. According to Variety, Mr Gregory has obtained the adaptation rights of the original film but other reports state that it may be more difficult for him to obtain film rights for the book. Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi di Lampedusa, the author's adopted son, has confirmed that the new project is not a remake but seems to think that more time will be required to deal with the question of the book rights.
The Italian legal system is not famous for its speed so it remains to be seen whether filming will start in Palermo this year as planned.
My lovely little girl, it is only now, a year after your death, that I have been able to bring myself to go through your photos and I have not cried too much, for the memories are happy ones. I'll try to remember you running up the lawn with your tuggy toy in Cardiff, lying contentedly in my arms on the journey from Catania to Modica after the great adventure of our flight to Sicily and, most of all, your "night game" of bounding towards me from the hallway to the bedroom with tuggy, not realising I could see your reflection in the glass balcony doors. Some nights, even now, I look for you in the glass and I see you, darling, I see you. And I see you when I'm out with Bertie-Pierrine, whom I'm sure you sent. Sometimes I say, "Walk with us, Simi" and you do.
We buried you near the sea, with tuggy toy. There the waves that will one day reunite us lull your sleep. Thank you again for all the love.
The festive season cannot end without my showing you what I ate on Christmas Day, can it? I was very happy to be spending the day with friends and to partake of focacce, grilled meat, fruit and perfect crème caramel prepared by Neapolitan chef Pino Mainolfi [on the left in the pictue] whom I enjoyed meeting. His blog [in Romanian] is here. I made and took along my second Christmas cake of the season:
I spent New Year's Eve at home because I was worried about the effect the inevitable fireworks would have on Bertie-Pierrine, whose first Christmas with me this was. She didn't seem overly peturbed - I was probably more frightened than she was, for Italians do not do things by halves - but I was glad I was here with her.
A lot of town councils all over Italy had banned New Year fireworks out of respect for the environment and animals and thus it was in Palermo, Catania, Siracusa and Ragusa, but not Modica. Nevertheless, a nine-year-old child in Palermo Province had to have his hand amputated after an accident with a firecracker and there were 190 firework-related injuries in Italy as a whole on New Year's Eve. Is it worth it?
If I sound like Scrooge here I would just like to say that I am outclassed in that respect by Telecom Italia, who managed to send their email bills out on Christmas Day. Now, that should be illegal as well!
The year that has just ended began, for me, in the worst possible way, with the loss of my darling Simi on January 8th. In the days and weeks that followed, there were several points when I thought I was going to go as well and of course, these days coming up to the anniversary of her death are also difficult.
But in February my Bertie-Pierrine, whom I love not as a substitute but in her own right, bounded into my life and we saved each other:
Other highlights of the year were visiting my new-found sister in Norwich, seeing Charles Aznavour live in concert in London and revisiting Cardiff, all of which I've written about here .
Elm Hill, Norwich, UK
It was also the year which marked the tenth anniversary of my move to Sicily and you can read about that here.
I was surprised, checking my blog stats tonight, to find that my most read blog post of 2015 was this Sabato Musicale - I must have a lot of readers who are Annalisa fans and very welcome they are! The second most read post was the one I have linked to above about Simi's death.
I don't have a gadget of the year but I do have new [to me] uses for two old ones! Both Mary Berry and Nigella suggest peeling ginger with a teaspoon in their latest books and I would like to thank them. It seems so obvious but I had never thought of it. Nigella recommends a microplane grater for grating citrus zest into dishes. I've had one for years but never realised how easy that would be!
Instead of the Italian logic prize this time, I am awarding an Italian scandal of scandals prize and it goes to the TV advert that horrified the nation in January because - are you ready? - it showed a MasterChef winner adding a stock cube to her caponata! I am pleased to be able to report that this ability to be more scandalised by the use of stock cubes than by all the worst excesses of Italian politicians is alive and well, as a hapless would-be MasterChef Italia 5 contestant found out a week or so ago. "Ci hai messo del dado?"- "You put a stock cube in?!" exclaimed a horrified Joe Bastianich and the ice-cold eyes of Chef Carlo Cracco turned icier than ever.
It was yet another sad year for migrants and tragedies have continued to happen, not only in the Mediterranean but on the land routes too. Italy's European partners continue to fail her and, consequently, all who are in need of a safe haven. You can find links to all my migration posts here.
My hopes for 2016 are a safe corridor for migrants and an end to migration tragedies. As always, I hope for peace and health for those I love and for all of you, wherever you are.
Happy New Year and thank you for reading Sicily Scene!