Sicily - under my skin

The Duomo in Catania

I´ve been back for six days now but I am still suffering from post-holiday-depression. I´m sitting in front of my laptop and watching the slideshow with photos I took in Sicily. I take the Sicily guide with me to read on the tram on my way to work...
I have already found two cook books on Amazon about Sicilian cookery that I am ordering as soon as my economy allows it.

Do I have to say more? I am in love.

It wasn´t love at first sight and that´s why I know this is going to last. It wasn´t all perfect, all gorgeous. When we arrived to Catania airport after ten hours on three different planes, we were standing and waiting for our luggage in the small (ish) arrival hall and stated fact that it looked and felt like Romania. Well, actually it also sounded like Romania, the first person I heard talking there was in Romanian :) So we were waiting and waiting and waiting for our luggage and I was telling laughingly the story when Anthony Bourdain arrived to Sicily (in No Reservations) and his bags were missing. I was sure it was all set up for the filming. The smile on my face faded when the belt (?) stopped and our bags never showed up.

These were our first minutes in Sicily. After an initial threatening stroke, I recovered quickly and started to appreciate that we are going to travel light. We ran to catch the bus already standing there but unfortunately we missed it as we forgot to buy tickets for it.

Lesson nr1: when taking a bus in Sicily, you always always buy the ticket before. You also need different tickets in different cities, so you can´t buy them in bulk and think you are safe for the rest of your stay. You can buy tickets in stores that have a black T-sign.


 

So I became obsessed with black T:s.

Another black "thing" I became obsessed with was Mount Etna. Before actually seeing it (I call it "her" for myself) I thought it was such a tasteless thing, every tourist taking pictures of it and buying loads of kitschy postcards, but when I finally laid my eyes on her, I couldn´t stop staring. It kept me spellbound. I was looking at her while eating my breakfast, I was gazing at her from our hotel window in the afternoon and especially in the evenings when we could see the still glowing streams of lava.



It was first then and there it started to get real to me. It was first then and there I started to understand how this vulcano gave and took life. I can´t even imagine what it would feel like to live and sleep with that mountain over my head for the rest of my life.

But since this is a food blog I should here mention that the territory on the lower slopes of the mountain is extraordinarily fertile. In the cultivated zone there are oranges, lemons and tangerines, and the higher slopes are planted with groves of olives, apples, pears, pistachios (the famous Bronte pistachios!), hazelnuts and vineyards. It is also one of the most important honey-producing areas of Italy, known for its citrus blossom honey.
I am not going to bore you with more talk, it feels like I could go on forever. Of course I just have to mention that I have never had such excellent bread in my life then in Sicily. The food (or shall I say our choice of restaurant or trattoria) wasn´t the best every time, but the bread was.
Also a beverage I fell in love with is the latte di mandorla. Quite sweet but so refreshing! I made a test tasting in Catania, Taormina, Modica and Siracusa and I must say my favorite latte di mandorla was made by a very kind and modest man in Catania. I picked the place because it didn´t look "touristy", it was a simple place with a few green plastic chairs stacked upon each other.







We had Pasta di Mandorla and Cassata at the famous Bar Pasticceria Chemi in Taormina, but dare I say I was disappointed? I have had Cassata at every place I could but the best one I had at a little taverna in Catania. The Cassata at Chemi was overly sweet, as was the marzipan covering on it, and that made it impossible to detect even the slightest taste of ricotta.

The marsipan fruit was a piece of art!
More coming another day.

Comments

Linda F said…
Wow Eva, what a fabulous post, gorgeous photos and descriptions, can't wait for the next installment!!!!:)
Shaun said…
Vonsachsen ~ Such a romantic recapture of your trip to Sicily. I am reading this post as the rain is beating against the window panes. I, too, am in love with notions of Sicilian cookery and the art of agrodolce. I can't wait to see your future posts of your holiday.
Sarah said…
The photos are beautiful! Such a lovely post.

Thank-you for sharing.

xox Sarah
farida said…
What a great post! Your pictures are beautiful! I'd like to go to Sicily one day too!
Thanks for sharing your trip! Interesting commentary and great shots!
Lisa said…
Fascinating!! Please do tell us more b/c I love hearing about it. Your pics are gorgeous!
My dream is to one day go to the Aeolian Islands, and now, after reading your thoughts, I'm just as excited about Sicily.
julie said…
Nice post! I went there twice over the past years and loved it!
Did you have arancini? cannoli? aarrrgh, the food...
Wow what a lovely post, gorgeous photography. I'm inspired to make Sicily a near future visit.

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