The Way We Were

Memories, like the corners of my mind…

On a recent trip to Sicily, I was reminded that, once upon a time, we used to eat a different way too. Maybe it was that starlit night in the piazza with the great Baroque basilica front-lit against the black sky… It just evoked another era.

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A starlit night in Marsala

Or maybe it was the buffet antipasto, something out of my childhood, something from somewhere long ago. Peppers roasted, fried, stuffed, pickled, you name it. Sun-dried tomatoes, zucchini, olives done a million ways, eggplant done two million ways (the parmesan being the most complete and substantial, although the caponata doesn’t fool around either!) Fried zucchini in oil and vinegar with mint and oregano… Flavors have the power to evoke a cascade of memories (go read your Proust, even if he isn’t an Italian author!)

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A delectable pistachio granita in Trapani

 

 

Maybe it is because they are still making these things the old-fashioned way. Why is it that pistachio granita just does not have that same flavor on the mainland?

 

The Bronte pistachio make their way off the island, I’m sure…

 

Just a simple lunch, a few things thrown together, has the rich aromas of a land that is still primarily agricultural. If you consider that Sicily is the 3rd largest wine-producing region in Italy, just the vineyards alone… Not to mention the oranges and other citrus, the tuna, tomatoes…

a light sicilian lunch

Something you can whip up yourself – when the basic ingredients are gold!

Which is not to say that Sicilian chefs are not adventuresome, inventing or re-inventing dishes that will knock your socks off, like these almond-encrusted red shrimp.

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If you are going to eat like this, you’d better keep a bottle of this handy:

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Amaro Segesta, with its cameo of the great Greek temple, like all those wonderful digestivi, will wipe the slate clean… And you’re ready to start all over again tomorrow!

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