I have delayed writing about our time in Sicily because I feel like I just can’t do it justice on paper. You really have to live, breath, feel and taste Sicily. It is the ultimate place of simplicity and contrasts coming together to make one perfectly harmonious experience. If you can understand the title, I mean really understand the title, then you will get Sicily.
The deep red velvety liquid dances on your taste buds as it flows from a white Dixie cup. A white plastic Dixie cup?! How could the nectar of the gods be served in a little white plastic cup? And yet in Sicily, how could it not? There could not be more of a contrast between the deep crimson liquid and the white plastic. And yet it couldn’t be any more perfect or taste any better than just as it is paired with the Pasta Alla Norma at the Mom and Pop restaurant in a back alley in Palermo, Sicily. In Sicily, there is no need to dress things up to make them appear better than they are. You don’t need crystal to bring out the wines beauty. You just need to close your eyes, gulp it all in, and savor the raw and honest flavors.
In Sicily, tomatoes don’t get dressed up to the nines to go out with Tagliatelle, but rather they go as they are, bold, sweet, delicious and maybe with a little olive oil and basil. One bite and BAM!….Tomato! Fruits and vegetables taste like they‘ve had sun on them. The egg yokes are the most brilliant orange color. The chocolate is spicy and direct from the chocolateria. Nothing is marked “organic” because everything is right out of a field and they would not have it any other way. Complexly flavored pasta is made from 3 simple ingredients of the right freshness, quantity and preparation.
Sicily is a place of extremes. The largest gruffest man spends his day making intricate marzipan works of art in the shapes of fruit that cannot be distinguished from the real thing. People are so passionate when having conversations, that I swore two men were about to get into a fight in a restaurant. It turns out they were just sharing a story about Grandma. Every Sicilian man is seen wearing designer sunglasses--Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Carrera---which it turns out can be purchased for 10 Euros at a market that does not exist. The dark and dilapidated streets are full of vibrant life and energy with music, voices and laughter. The smallness of their homes is inversely related to the fullness of their lives. The darkest of darks and the lightest of lights. The extremes balance themselves in harmony.
We traveled to Sicily armed with our newly refreshed Italian language skills and a desire to experience new places. We had no expectations and were rewarded by our interactions with people who live their lives with passion. A passion that Sicilians exude in their daily lives, in conversations with friends, in picking out fresh food for the days meals and in pouring their wine into plastic Dixie cups. We left Sicily with a different perspective of how to live our lives and took a few good recipes, too!