A Little Bit of Me

Jottings and Writing, miscellanous misgivings

Archive for Foodj

Levitating from Italy

Iimg_20161105_161453 was watching ‘The Way’ last night and I had some thoughts about the last few months. The Way is the Emilio Estevez film starring himself and his dad, Martin Sheen, and is based around the Camino de Santiago or the Way of St James, a pilgrimage that thousands take from France through to the Spanish coast. Its a story of a man (Sheen ) who has disconnected from the world and through the death of his estranged son, and the companionship of three fellow travellers, regains his faith in humanity. It was my second viewing, this time in Italian, so I could more read between the lines.
Some background. I have been living pretty much on my own for the last few years. Alison commutes to Christchurch most weeks for several days so I rattle around in a big house on my own. This trip has forced us back together about a week after she retired so there has been that but also having to be amongst new people everyday. It has been good for me and despite struggling with the language (particularly the further south we go) it has been a terribly rewarding experience. I have kept up links with NZ through this blog and I have joined Facebook and many groups where some very opinionated people have given their world views.
I have also encountered some lovely people who, despite never having met them before, have been friendly, gracious, welcoming and made me feel more welcome here than in my own country.
Why? Well I think a combination of things. Overseas I have engaged more with people, established eye contact, smiled at small things, touched, sought out new experiences. This attracts people to you. And not only Italians. On hearing a language I can identify I ask them if I am correct and that can always start up a conversation. This morning a man smiled at me , I nodded back, he saw my passport, we struck up a conversation, his wife joined on, Alison joined in and all of a sudden we learned of his holiday, their experiences, what they were doing etc. It had happened on a remote railway platform. We spoke to a young man with a bicycle who was lost. Turned out he was an Italian doctor cycling through southern Italy and he wanted to get off the road for a few days. We started talking and it all ended with an invitation to visit and stay with us in NZ . In NZ I do this to a lesser extent. Just get to where you need to be, do whatever you need to do, get out as fast as possible. Take my cardiac rehab class of 20 sessions. It was only part way through that I was informed that the physical exercise was only secondary to the purpose of the class. We were there primarily for social integration. Oh dear! How had I missed that? Di conseguenza be more open to people and engage more rather than being a hermit. And listen to what they have to say. And ask more questions of their experiences. And open myself up to new experiences. When I look back over these last few months the best things have been things that Alison forced me to do. I resisted, preferring my own safe insular world, but ultimately my fears and anxieties are holding me back from experiencing a much fuller life.
Anyway Ryanair got us to Rome where we were picked up by our suave, Mercedes driving chauffeur, who whisked us at 150 kph to our luxury apartment in Central Rome. So cooool. We should do this every stop but once in a while is affordable and a nice change.
Crowd watching at the Coliseum . Selfie hell. No5 only thousands of people taking selfies but getting whacked in the face with selfie sticks, selfie stick sellers pushing selfie sticks at you. Whoever invented them has made a fortune and should be taken to a quiet place along with the guy who invented that trumpet thing that wrecked a World Cup soccer tournament, put against a wall and be flogged to death with a Sedgway.
The family from Morrisville. Desperate to find a toilet at the Coliseum . You would think there would be public toilets where thousands of people visit but the only toilet is in a tiny pizzeria perched atop a hill about 300 metres from the place. Huge queues but I have been successful at sneaking into the ladies so did my business without fuss. We decided to have a pizza and coffee and a couple and their teenage daughter sat down beside us. I thought they were australians but turns out they were New Zealanders from Morrinsville. They have been in Holland, Italy and Denmark. Nice folks and their experience of Europe so refreshingly different. When they asked what foods Iiked most they kind of looked like they were a little bit sick. The only New Zealanders we met our whole time in Italy.

levitating-street-performerSeriously good food. Stopped off on Piazza Nouva and listened to live buskers for a couple of hours, watched street artists and all sorts of trikery by sidewalk artists. I now know how the suspended man trick works. Marvelous square. Indian in the air. How does he do it.Now, thanks to some serious thinking I worked out the only possible way it could ne done and found the props on the Internet. Then we wandered into Quirino restaurant where we enjoyed the best antipasto followed by grilled lamb chops and a salad to die for and Alisons saltimbocca was heavenly. Curiously Trip Advisor rates it poorly for the surly waiter and the incredibly rude and loud female owner who tore a strip off me for using my credit card then her head waiter for making me wait for five minutes so she could deal with me. I loved her.
Knees and hamstrings. Haven’t had a good couple of days of it as my knee and calf muscles have taken a pounding from Romes cobbled streets and the very poor walking surface which found me twisting my ankle and knee several times.
Its Goodbye bata bullets. A new pair when I left and with all the walking the insoles are destroyed, there are holes in the heels and sides, and…… they smell. I tried cleaning them by wading in the sea at Cefalu but they have just given up the ghost. Well done and well done me as my ability to walk everywhere was called into doubt before we departed. Those cardiac rehab classes were more than socialising then. Mind you I have a seriously sore right knee and I lulled a calf muscle climbing over a f3nce which has given me a day of grief in Rome.
A day of rest and reading whilst Alison goes shopping but she returns after an hour. Rome is not a shoppers paradise this time of year although I saw tons of things I could buy but well above my pensioners budget. A decent jacket for €400 is not something I can contemplate right now. img_20161105_101950


Venting my spleen

Beautiful apartment but dodgy Italian infrstructure rears its ugly head. Point one, I have documented the hot water situation. This morning, following the instructions on the wall, I could not get any hot water. Finally, after an hour of resetting everything, trying on vain to find the pilot light, I thress the instructions to the wind and followed my instincts. Hey presto! Instant hot water.
Next there is a sign in the bathroom DO NOT PUT ANYTHING DOWN THE TOILET. THIS HOUSE HAS A SEPTIC TANK WHICH MAY BACK UP. Now my limited understanding is that a septic tank will only back up if its not wmptied occassionally. I still have visions of my good friend Gordon up to his elb9ws in excrement after emptying his. AndbI am not going to deposit shitty toilet oaper in the wee bin to remind me what I have eaten last night. Cant see any obvious companies doing septic tank cleanouts and why a septic tank less than 5km from the capital of Italy in a built up suburban area. The house is relatively modern.
Then Alison turns on a switch and there is a loud buzzing noise sounding ominously like a short circuit. Another sign warns us not to run more than three electrical devices at the same time and that Italian households have a daily limit on tbe power they can consumme. This, in a country which has the highest uptake of solar power in the wo4ld.
And, door and gate locks – the bane of my life. Italians have this complicated three lock system which only seehs to deter the homeowner. Three to the left and then back one or two, or thre then righ5, left, right. We broke and jammed ( I should say I broke and jammed) three keys and were given numerous tutorials so as not to break, jam keys. Cant see why the old ,put key in lock, 5urn righ5, door unlocks cant work.
A huge storm in Mondello in the past few days. The bay is usually like glass and the colorful fishing boats bob up and down at their moorings. Much thunder and lightbning and then a tremendous downpour of rain which floods the streets. No water conservation here. Havent seen a water tank and when it rains you could fill a 3000 litre tank easily. Then the waves arrive in a strong (30-40 knot) NNW wind. Breakers crashing over the promenade, fishing boats bashing into each other, objects flying through the air. A day later it is only starting to die down but once the sun goes down you know that winter is fast approaching, although, I couldnt stay out on the balcony midafternoon as the sun was so hot.
We have a d3cent TV here so I have been indulging myself. Italian TV is crappier (if possible ) than NZ TV. Long out-of-date american crime shows, ancient american, french movies badly dubbed, endless shopping channels, really bad news channels which seem to be obssessed with immigration, earthquakes 9ten live feed cuts in one half hour segment and all showi g the same shot of a church crumbling), and advertising worse than any I have seen in any country. There are some gems though. I caught Vera Cruz with Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper, I caught a Scandinav8an comedy film which had many of the actors from a miniserues I watched called Jordskott, which was interesting and a car show which al5hough having the same format for each hour segment; man buys car; man shows all the defects in car; man takes car to mechanic friend; mechanic friend fixes car; man flogs off car at a profit or not. What is different is the show goes into a lot of technical stuff like how to remove bearings, how to do a valve gri d, how yo rem9ve rust, how to bleed brakes, how to replace a softtop, how to install an exhaust system – stuff that appeals to me rather than Jeremy and Co doing spinouts and abusing johnny foreigner. Also some d3cent music shows. We eat hed Mark Knoefler doing a show in London which I hadnt seen befoe and a documentary on Bobby Rush (dubbed in Italian)
I have a rabbit to cook tonight so am off to the village to get something to go with it. €14 -complete with head and eyes which I probably won,t use. Something Sicilian, I think.
Alison has today planned out for our last day here. We are going to visit Palermo. First to explore the markets, secondly so I can have some famous Sicilian street food, and lastly fix up a glitch with the incredibly cheap but devious Ryanair. We found out last night that we must have printed boarding passes to get onboard our Ryanair flight to Rome or will incur a €45 fine for each of us. We had been warned that this was a Ryanair trick to provide cheap fares then load them up with fiddly things
Ike this. Alisons attempts’ with Livechat only got us to the point where their wonderful new app would suffice but we have discovered this only applies to EU members. We have to print out a boarding pass and as we don’t travel around with a printer, and, Internet cafes with printers we can connect to are rare in Sicily we are hoping, by some miracle that Palermo will provide us with a solution.
The markets are a huge disappointment. Selling the same tat as you get on most beachfronts in Italy. The food stalls are better but as our home cooking days draw to a close not much to see. And the smells and rubbish are really offputting. Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor both say the Old Market is dead and gone and these are the places to be but I am increasingly questioning who these peoole write for. The Old Market has some cool bric a brac and the food is much more pleasantly presented.
Then, my next disappointment. I find my beef spleen in a bun but only served with lemon. Its not nice but I could see how with fried onion, cheese and lemon it could grow on me. A big thumbs down.
Then, we find a hotel who agree to print our boarding passes and presto , problem solved.
Palermo, a mixed bag. The city itself is dominated by Mafia built apartment blocks which are in stark contrast to those in Mondello which are characterised by the Art Nouvea villas.
The Art Nouveau villas characterize the architecture of the place, making it an important landmark in the history of international modernism . These buildings (many by the famous architect Ernesto Basile) are among the best examples of Art Nouveau in Italy and Europe.
Tomorrow all paths lead to Rome if Ryanair doesn’t spring another little Irish surprise and if the earthquakes don’t crack the runway in Rome or if …………….img_20161027_150941

Tonka beans

img_20161027_151002Well the drive to Mondello was an experience. I sat in front and I can now see why Alison cringed when I drove the Saab. Narrowly missing wing mirrors and road markings, tail ending cars and suicide braking. Will we or will we not crash when we merge. I struggled to start a conversation but he spoke no English and was one of those men whom conversation when you are driving was ”bastardo, tetardo, fuck,”. Best concentrate on the sights. img_20161027_135409And they were many.

Can’t wait to try the food here. The street food is renowned and I am drawn to pani ci meusa (a sandwich made of fried beef spleen served with Sicilian lemon and caciocavallo cheese), yeah beef spleen. There are also sea urchins which I will definitely give a miss but lots of fish.

We had walked past it yesterday and glanced at the m3nu but all I could see was fish, fish, fish, so we moved on. A guy standing out from cooking on a two burner gas stove , surrounded by little dishes of seasonings, herbs and freshly diced vegatables. Trattoria da Piero. We woke late. I had tried the plug in gizmo to deter mosquitos but the fumes triggered an asthma attack so I had moved out to the balcony and woke to a thunderstorm and heavy rain avoiding the need for a morning shower. It is a bit of a problem showering and washing because one of the many ‘rules’ of the house is to turn off the gas water heater overnight or when we leave. Getting it started again is a bit of a hit and miss affair and twice I have started a shower only to get lathered up and the water goes cold. Trudging back out the balcony I find that the pilot light has gone out and I have to start all over with soap running into my eyes.
Anyway we trudge downtown around 1300hrs and I am prepared to give fish a go. Much to my delight there is meat on the menu but we start with an octopus salad. That the large pot on one of the burners turns out to contain three octopi simmering in a broth of stock liberally spiced and dashes of lemon. One is hauled out and dissected in front of our eyes, smothered in pepper , salt, lemon juice and olive oil, and that folks is your starter. Alison has the grilled sea bass and I , the Angus beef with one of the best simple salads I have tasted in a restaurant. To top it off the beef, oysters, fish , vegetables are actually bought off a truck outside the shop, AND, amongst all this the three staff take turns cooking, waiting, and entertaining the guests. The cook even pulls customers over to stir something, or look in a pot, or smell a jar of something just arrived at the restaurant. All very entertaining and the food is seriously good. I will be back and will probably be tempted to do fish.
What was interesting and he let me have a smell of it was a can of tonka beans, a South American member of the pea family which is dried and looks like a big coffee bean. He explains that he likes cooking with them (shaved) and they go well with fish. They are also put in ice cream and deserts. They are illegal in the USA and several top restaurants have been raided by the FDA. Apparently some Italian liqueurs contain the active ingredient is coumarin which the misguided food police believe is a blood thinner, hence the ban. img_20161027_133119

Goodbye Cefalu

img_20161025_094152Last morning in Cefalu. We stroll up to the old town as the day climbs toward 30+ degrees and take our last coffee and pistachio treats for breakfast. I am tempted to buy that coppola that I spied earlier on but fortunately the shop is closed and I can only look longingly through the window at the poles of €25 hats. Later as we stroll for the last time down the waterfront and gaze jealously at swimmers taking an early morning dip I spy a similar hat for €10, but wrong size. We pay a last visit to the Superstore for refreshments for the train ride and I sit on the bench outside waiting for Alison and ponder on the begging. Sitting next to me is a young African man and his scam is to approach people who are struggling with their groceries and, for a small offering, carry them to the car or taxi. Earlier we were approached by the lesser form of an African guy holding out his hat and asking for money, he does this up and down the street, in shops, in restaurants, along the beach. A variation is a woman, usually with a baby doing the same thing. Then there are the (usually Indian) people selling crap, again along the beach or on the promenade. Yesterday the municipal police turned up and as the cheroot smoking officer with his low slung Glock, looked on, the vendors scattered left and right moving their stuff down alleys, into waiting cars or just over the wall onto the beach. There are signs everywhere warning of pickpockets and thieves on the treno notte but this barely legitimized and marginally tolerated begging seems to be the norm. And 90% of the time is fruitless. At least the masses who roam the beach offer something for your money. I figure they earn about € 160-200 a day, seven days a week, tax free. Not bad and this is the off season so it could be considerably more July- September.
Cefalu has been great. The beach is fantastic, the amenities only a few minutes stroll through the railway tunnel. The supermarket has everything. There are fruit and vegetable and fish stalls everywhere. The apartment, although north facing has a large balcony. There is a great bathroom and apart from nightly visits from mosquitoes good sleeping facilities. We could try harder to avoid them but it’s a luxury to sleep with all the doors and windows open and repellants smell so bad. The old town is fascinating, good eateries , and high end fashion shops.

She came out of the sea. Blue suit, my favorite. Pale. Probably not local. Stretched towel. Daughter, I phone, furiously texting. She shook off the sand, donned goggles, swam out an impossible distance. Glanced back. Had her lover returned. She had to pick up Raffeleo at 1339. Rush along the beach. All good. Change to swimwear agong. Stroke out. Don glasses. Dive. The sand is so white, the rocks so green. From out here she can see the beach. Stick figures. Closer, the men, leering at her, the women, envying her. Roffello arrives. “ Oappa is here. He has pizza’. The scheme ends.

Train journey to Palermo has its moments. We wait at the Cefalu train station, validate our tickets, we are leaving from platform 3 which is a trek across two lines. We have thirty minutes to wait in the now blistering sun and I idly consult the board and see that a train from Palermo arrives at 12.57 and one leaves for Palmero at 13.05. Alison and I first have an argument about whether it’s the same train (she it is, me it is not) much to the delight of the young Italian beauty sharing our platform seat. We consult the board and they are indeed 1291 and 1298, two different trains. I demand an apology which raises a smile from our onlooker and then the train from Palermo pulls in and suddenly the board changes and there is much station announcement in Italian, English and German I cannot hear because of some loud youths yelling and playing music. The train sits and both tourists and locals sit and then a guard comes running down the platform yelling Palermo, Palermo, and there is a mass scramble for seats on the very flash new train. I run up to the guard and ask Palermo and indicate that the train has just come from Palermo and is it possible its going back without img_20161023_173500going anywhere else. “si, si , Palermo” as he mimes a thumb back along the track. I throw my suitcase on board and see Alison stubbornly standing on the platform. I can see her little mind going “he’s wrong, wrong, wrong, and we have a bloody taxi waiting in Palermo to take us to Mondello, wrong, wrong”. Finally, her pride shattered she jumps on board and pretends that she can’t lift her suitcase up onto the rack in a vain attempt to make me feel even more guilty. She then sits and mutters under her breath how this is all going to turn to shit and we will be back in Messina and ……….. Actually I am a little concerned myself because I can’t see why a train would just retrace its steps like thisimg_20161025_123823 but, much to my great relief, the train starts going to Palermo. And then… the loud youth from the station have populated our carriage and one of them has obviously got a boom box attachment for his cellphone and suddenly our carriage is bombarded by some really bad Italian rap. Despite dire warnings over the intercom that the railway police are on board and that all carriages are under police surveillance it doesn’t deter them from turning the crap up even louder. Suddenly Alison releases all her rage and ‘politely’ asks them to turn it down. And they do.

Lovely train ride and they get off at some dump about two stops on so we can enjoy the coastline and intensive agriculture on the other side of the tracks. I keep wondering about irrigation as Sicily does have a problem in that area and they don’t seem to store what little rain that falls.
Finally we pull into still bomb damaged from WW2 Palermo. It doesn’t look great. Some obvious rubbish problems (Mafia) and awful high rise dwellings. We are met by Carlo , our driver, who, for €15 is going to drive us to Mondello , on the airport side of Palermo.

A Foodie Look at Malta

A medium wind last night and as I drifted off to sleep it howled down the narrow alleys of Vittoriosa of which the village of Birgu is where we are based) creating an eerie backdrop to the night. The narrow alleys are beautifully lit at night and its surreal weaving your way home even without the wind effects. We missed the festival of lights (Birgufest)by a couple of days where the streets of Birgu are lit up with candlelight’s. The workmen were dismantling them as we arrived although remnants still line the streets.


[ File # csp6162875, License # 2142429 ] Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php) (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / alessandro0770

I am trying to get a fix on Maltese food. The paucity of open restaurants, and, the fact that at 1900hrs we were so hungry, not having eaten all day aside from a snack at breakfast saw us fronting up to the doors of the D Scene , where we had dined on rabbit and swordfish the day before. imagesThe place was empty but the waiter said they were ready to go. I wanted the famous pork dish (either majjal il forno or bhal fil forno or )but it had been on special all day and was’off’. I secretly hoped that was off the menu not, lying on some disused and forgotten cupboard being infested with flies, awaiting tomorrows tourists. I had read some very mixed reviews about this place after the cat story and several mentioned dirty tables, plates, glasses, offensive smells from the kitchen, along with Basil Fawlty type service. We ordered a starter of gbejniet cheese from Gozo , which is a hard fetta like cheese impregnated with black peppers on a bed of rocket with bread sticks. Amazing and balanced lovely by the carafe of Maltese red wine. However, my main of Bragioli basically a large beef olive stuffed with chopped bacon, eggs, and cooked in a tomato, onion and red wine reduction was dry, tasteless and tough. Alison had Cerna (grouper) which was assured was a fillet but the waiter or cooks grasp of the word fillet was not a longitudinal cut , deboned , but a transverse slice complete with bones and skin. So, a mixed bag and we wont be going back there again.( i noted the stained tablecloth and the Basil Fawlty wait staff who had the same patter as the day before and I suspected he did not understand English) There are three other restaurants close by which ARE highly recommended and Mario has said the Italian restaurant by the marina is good. Frankly I am getting tired of pasta and tomato with everything and want something different.gbejniet-500x600

I pleasant surprise. Caught the ferry over to Valetta (tourist hell, three huge cruise ships on, streets so packed I couldn’t even take a photo) and walked into cafe San Giovanni for a quick snack and an iced tea. Ordered a traditional Maltese ftira flat bread suffed with maltese sausage (zaizettt tal malti) and cheese . Stunning. Around the corner is the Prince of Wales Old Band Club which is described as one of Maltas good restaurants.. then follow that up with a mango gelato and an iced coffee with large dollops of iced cream. Starting to get the flavour this now.
This evening its on to a little family restaraunt called Tal Petut.

The last of cars, horses and gambling on Sunday

Last time I will bore you with talk of cars. Autosrade. Great, though roads bordering on marginal in places. Speed limit – take you pick. I choose 120 kph but was passed by cars doing easily 160 kph. Views – nil. Roadside stops -nil though Agip truck/car stops in abundance where you can get autogrill (pretty passable fare) but you cant buy guns and knives like you can in USA. But they do have toll booths which proved to be the bane of my life. Fine, if they are working properly. You approach the barried booth when you enter the autostade, get a ticket, stash handily because when you need it you dont want to be fumbling around muttering ‘where did I put that fucking ticket’ while what sounds like the entire population of a small village are angrily honking and yelling at you. But beware, the beggars who grab the ticket and then demand money before they will give it to you. Or beware, the barrier arms mysteriously goes up with no ticket and you innocently drive through only be confronted at the exit point with unmanned booths with barriers firmly locked down and you are stuck on the autostrade. Then the exits. You hand your ticket to a bored, sadistic booth operator who points to the electronic s screen where your toll is displayed (usually 2 – 3 €) and he grumbles when you havent the right change etc. But, some are unmanned and you have got to stick uour ticket in, a price is displayed and a little bucket comes out where you put your money. To bad if you havent the right change as , in my experience, electronic buckets dont do change. Then its pandemonium as you exit your gate as there are usually four lanes converging on one little lane on the exit.
There! I am done. No more cars and roads.
Todays task was to see some of central and downtown Catania. Our mission was to take an organised tour of the main street, the port, the historic part of the city, the old part of the city, the gardens, and a few statues of famous people who wrote music, or fought battles which they usually lost in spectacular fashion (which is why Sicily has so many cultural influences). The tour started at a place called the Duomo but there are so many Duomos (church dome) that we couldn’t find the correct one. We noted it went past the Gardens so we deposited our sweaty selves in the shade and waited the tours arrival. The driver gracefully accepted our money and we got the tour back to the central Piazza (the Duomo) where were told that our half tour had ended. I )for the first time since being in Italy) stared blankly, shrugged my shoulders and stayed firmly in place. Along came an English speaking guide whose english exteneded to ‘THIS TOUR NOT STOP AND GET OFF’. After numerous attempts to shift us they have up, saw the logic of our right to do one circuit and we all became good friends and shook hands when we finally alighted where we had got on. The main street is most unspectacular, lacking in any traffic, and is lined with designer shops and high end bars and ristorante. The port looked interesting with a large fair just packing up for the 1300hr siesta. Lots of funky little alleys full of nice craft and food but the meat stalls had dodgy looking cuts with flies hovering everywhere. Even some horsemeat which I saw on the supermarket, and advertised as a dish in several diners. Must give it a go. The city has some impressive architecture and a lot of it is black larval rock left over from numerous eruptions of Mt Etna. Where we go tomorrow.


Hisilicon Balong


Martha Stewart and the orecchiette challenge

Just been for my third,(fourth or fifth) swim in the sea. Checked out the water temp (another Internet must)
Its 25C-air temp 29C, so not as hot as St Clair salt water pool but it FEELS so warm.The complex seems to be mostly German tourists though they could be Swiss. Anyway they are louder and more brash than australians, paler than English and very unfriendly
Drove to Barcenello (I kid you not) a small village about 5km up the coast to buy supplies. Some accommodations have basics like soap, salt,.oil,pasta, t towels; some not. This is one that does NOT.. Lovely little village and three supermarkets and although everyone .raves about Sicily’s lemons and oranges , not one to be seen.
Not sure what.the etiquette here is re mealtimes but.I have a pasta sauce brewing with a bag of dried.oregaano flavourimg and it seems to be turning a few heads as the Swiss/Germans trudge back from the pool (we favour the sea,.they the freezing cold pool).We are hanging out to eat out but haven’t found anywhere local yet. There.is the.local yacht club ,50 down the road where ,I can flash my OYC &’ wollacott association card and hope for a reduced fee meal but I.think.it will turn out to be a crock of shit dreamed up by yachting nz.
We are cooking from local stalls and supermarkets and although the veg and fruit is good the mysterymeat is a challenge. The names I had learnt bear no relation to what is displayed and what looks to be great to flash fry, we have found to our consternation, to be inedible. Mostly chicken, pork and veal and thinly sliced. Beef is rare and way expensive. Lamb, nonexistant. I havent seen any goat or rabbit since Florence. A dont like fish much but was determined to expand my tastes. Already talked about sweet and sour sardines, octopus, swordfish but the fish markets only intensify my thing about fish. There is a strong fish smell, makes me want to gag, and there are flies everywhere and fish juice dripping onto the ground that you smell as you take your shoes off ay night. I will persevere but I find it a challenge.
Its an hour later and the bolphanese sauce alla Naomi (‘with milk and red wine) is nearly ready. I have orrienchetti to go with this and a radicchio salad.
Maybe invite those Germans from next door who at least swum in the sea and made an attempt to talk.
The orrienchetti was horrible and I see that Martha Stewart recommends cooking it in a broth and for longer than the instructions on the packet

Todays Sicily breaking news. The Mafia, long thought to be largely gone from Italian life or at least playing a diminished role, have been implicated in the rash of forest fires breaking out in Sicilys national parks and forests this week. They are tying petrol soaked rags to cats tails and releasing them into the forests. It has caused widespread water shortages and disrupted other amenities. Cant quite see the bottom line here but there is a mangy cat screeching around the resort who could come to the Mafia attention.
It is raining here which, personally, comes as a surprise but on reading the Sicily news travel column the writer, while explain8ng the exotic Sicily says that every visit he has had it rains, there is thunder, it blows, and it hails.

Funny but I have started to seek out NZ news a month into the trip. Suddenly I am nostalgic for some home news and catch up with friends. I found this Dunedin photographer Michelle Chalkin—Sinclair who has a blog but has also teamed up with Judith Cullen to produce a Dunedin Fon book?. Her pictures of Dunedin and Port Chalmers are stunning and I ask myself “why dont I see it like that”.