Friday, July 27, 2007

A SICILIAN BIRTHDAY PARTY

















































































































Irma called at 08.30 yesterday morning. "Open the shutters!" she commanded. "What? In the daytime?" I asked, having become quite Sicilian in this matter. "Yes, the afa [extreme heat] is over and the air has changed" she replied. I did as I was bidden and in wafted a delicious, cooling, refreshing breeze such as I was beginning to think I would never feel again. Simi and I went straight out and, as she sniffed the air, I could see precious Simi's energy returning - a fact which she immediately proved by barking at passing motorbikes. It's still hot but for the past two days, we have been able to breathe properly and find relief in the evenings. It's only when this sort of heat lifts that you realise how oppressive it has been: I had started to believe it was "normal" to be permanently befuddled, unable to sit comfortably anywhere and to generally not know what to do with myself.











The second reason for Irma's early call was to invite me, along with other friends, to celebrate her husband Cesare's 55th birthday at the excellent Bar Consorzio last night. So they picked me up at 9 pm and we sat outside in the fresh breeze, further protected by the shade of an olive tree and a tall prickly pear plant. Note the garlic strung around the tree: this is not merely decorative but also keeps mosquitoes away.
Now to the food: it was a set menu but Irma had warned the bar that I cannot eat fish so you will see that I had alternatives: To start with there was a cold soup, rather like a gazpacho: mine was decorated with ice cubes and basil whilst the others had mussels with theirs. Little savoury pastries were served with this. Next came a fish antipasto for the others, whilst I was offered this beautifully presented bresaola with salad, more pastries and arancini [rice balls]. Then I had pasta with grilled vegetables whilst my friends had pasta with fish. The main course for my companions was this dish of prawns. Mine was a delicately cooked fillet of beef, very prettily served as you see. The contorno for us all consisted of barely cooked green beans and carrots with tomatoes.
Then you see some humans! First Cesare [seated] with his daughter, "Gilda" and the chef / owner of the bar, another Simone, a friend of the family. "Gilda" was such a little girl when I first came to Sicily in 1992. Now she has blossomed into this lovely young woman who, we have reason to believe, is well on her way to becoming an opera star. In the next photo you can see me [though I hesitate to post a photo of myself after the post-I-haven't-read at James's!], Irma and Cesare. Finally, a very happy Cesare opens the champers.
There was one sombre note, however: among our company was a young man who has cancer. Because of the drugs he has been prescribed, he has had a very bad reaction to the heat this time and his mouth is a mass of blisters. He could only nibble at a slice of bread and eat an ice cream. I so wanted to wrap this young man in my arms and tell him everything would be all right but of course I couldn't do so because I don't know that. And I was grumbling about my reaction to the heat?!
I don't know how this post will look as I am having trouble with the spacing, presumably because of the number of photos. Pazienza!

16 comments:

Shani said...

That looked like a super evening and such kind-eyed friends...

I hope the weather isn't too difficult to cope with.

Hugs Shani

marymaryquitecontrary said...

It is a lovely birthday spread. I is nice that you have such good friends in Sicily. Did you know them before you went to live there? Poor boy, I have heard chemotherapy drugs can have that terrible side effect.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Shani. They are lovely friends. Heat OK tonight but we are warned it is going to get hotter again over the weekend! MM, yes, they are all friends I made back in 1992 and kept in touch with.

Chris said...

Looks like it was a great party, Welshcakes. And what fantastic food!

After reading about that poor young man's problems I've told myself to stop complaining,count my blessings and enjoy my life, because I can.

Lee said...

Yum! Yum! That all looks delicious. I love mussels. Actually, I'm making myself a spaghetti marina later...you've just made me even hungrier, Welsh! ;)

It all sounds like a lot of fun.

I'm just catching up on blogs...I've been missing these past couple of days!

Anonymous said...

The post looks fine. I'm glad the heat has finally been broken. Food looks excellent. Glad you had a good time.

Sally said...

What a pleasure to see such a lovely photo of you and your friends, so pleased to know what Irma looks like. Did I detect a snappy new bracelet round your wrist? The menu made me drool with pleasure - I'm so glad you all had such a happy evening. Enjoy that fresh air while it lasts.

lv2scpbk said...

Some great looking food photos. Stopped in from clicking on your site from someone else's.

James Higham said...

Fabulous and by photo ten I was salivating so much I had to stop. This blog is damaging to the equilibrium.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Ciao, Chris, That's how I felt, too. - Time to count my blessings. Hi, Lee - hope you enjoyed ypour own spread. I know you will have because you are such a great cook! That's reassuring, Steve. It's been hot again today but nothing like earlier in the week. Hi, Sally - yes, you did! I just can't resist costume jewellery! Thanks for your good wishes - making the most of the respite. Thanks, lv2... Glad you came by and glad you like the food pics. You have fab pics on your own blog.James, what can I say?!!

jmb said...

What a lovely evening and feast at the restaurant. Looking good Welshcakes, showcasing the red bling with the white dress.
It puts it all in perspective, doesn't it when you meet someone like that young man.
Yes cancer can be beaten, but the treatment with chemo is hell. I wish him well and that it has worked.
regards
jmb

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thank you kindly, jmb. As you say, thinking of that young man puts things in perspective.

Crushed said...

Gilda is very pretty.

I have a sort of vision of the place where you are eating, possibly a composite vision, but of course you rarely eat outside here.

But I often think a romantic meal by moonlight would be lovely.

Maybe you could introduce me to Gilda and she could show me...?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Crushed, You know, I hated eating outside in the UK, because, even on the rare occasions when we had the weather for it, wasps, etc., would bother you. That doesn't happen here! Gilda is spoken for, but I'll tell her just the same!

Unknown said...

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Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thank you for visiting.

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