Who do we have to *$&@#^ to get a dish of pasta around here?

October 24, 2014

cannoli fixins
When I went down to breakfast the first day we were in Sicily, I saw this on a side-table. Cannoli fixin’s, as we used to say in the South.

They must be preparing cannoli for tonight, I thought.

cannoli bfastBut then a waiter came around with a plate of tiny cannoli, filled and ready to serve for breakfast.  Cannoli are not traditionally something I’d eat for breakfast, much as I love them, but I must admit I had one and it was mighty good.

It wasn’t the only surprise, either.

gluten freeGluten-free options are available in Sicily now and the same with lactose-free. Who knew?

And the surprises kept on coming.

Sitting in girlfriend’s hospital room before I left for Sicily, she said, “Have a plate of pasta and glass of wine for me.”  It was easy to agree: there’s nothing I enjoy more than a great dish of that Sicilian mainstay: pasta with red sauce.

M and I arrived at each meal practically licking our chops in anticipation, only to find….

…some of the most creative nouveau cuisine in the world.

We ate the famous Sicilian black pig. Well, they told us it was famous. I’d never heard of it. And actually, it was kind of tough.

There was beautifully prepared cod.  Gorgeous chicken.  We had fried potatoes to die for.  There was salad (undressed lettuce) and tomato salad.

But where was that delicious peasant dish of pasta?

la madea
As a special treat, arrangements were made for us to eat at La Madia, a two-Michelin star restaurant in Licata.

The service was… awful. It was almost an hour until we saw our first food or drink. Oh, and forget mood lighting. The place was lit up like a football stadium. You could perform surgery in the dining room.

The food that night was…creative. A study in…fish. Some of it really, really… fishy.

2014-10-08 22.08.05Like this. I can not tell you how fishy it was. It was…awfully fishy. And awful. I took a bite and thought, Seriously? This is supposed to be good?

2014-10-08 21.22.51

Octopus is pretty fishy.

Did I really eat this? I am not particularly fond of eating things that, when plated,  look a whole lot like they look in the wild. When they were alive. Perhaps if I had to do it more often I’d be a complete vegetarian.

2014-10-08 21.26.03

I ate some of it. But it looked just a little too…alive…for me. I felt sorry for it.

La Madia was a four-hour ordeal that (at least from the conversation at table) most of us were glad to see come to an end.

But still, the question of the hour was “Who do we have to @#$%^&* around here to get a plate of pasta? Or a slice of pizza?”

pool food

This pizza was incredibly delicious.

No one, as it turned out. We just had to wait patiently. Toward the end of the trip, some of the delicious traditional dishes appeared.

pool food5

Pasta in Sicily is very al dente.

“There’s a fine line between al dente and raw,” M. observed.  He likes his pasta a bit less al dente.

pasta in spoon cuAnd here it is, my very favorite dish of all. A dish of pasta with red sauce. Finally!

meatballsThese tiny meatballs were almost as scrumptious as the larger ones my mother made. Yum!

canelloniAnd more pasta: cannelloni that melted in our mouths.

cookies best fbSome of my favorite Sicilian cookies, looking and tasting even better than what we had growing up.

coffee lastAnd let’s not forget ending the meal with strong, dark Italian coffee.

Finally, finally, we got the kind of food we were expecting, the Sicilian dishes we grew up with, made in Sicily. And eaten in Sicily.

I can’t wait to go back–and be able to enjoy all this great food when I’m not sick.



31 comments on “Who do we have to *$&@#^ to get a dish of pasta around here?
  1. I haven’t even eaten my breakfast yet and now I’m hungry for a good pasta dinner! I never had a bad meal in Italy. I need to go back!

  2. I’m with you Carol. My favorite, a dish of pasta with red sauce followed by Italian cookies and strong, dark Italian coffee. Yum!

  3. Andrea B. says:

    You’re like me!! I can’t eat it if it looks like it did when alive. Absolutely NO-GO.

    But pasta. Ahhh. Pasta makes me happy. ALWAYS. Glad you finally got some and felt well enough to enjoy it!

  4. Donna says:

    I find any more that my favorite food is simple food….incredible well prepared, simple food.
    I also do not enjoy food that looks alive….not even a little.
    And some rigatoni with red sauce? Heaven

  5. That food looks amazing — well, I don’t think I could eat the octopus. I’m with you about not eating things that look the same plated as they did when they were alive. We didn’t have one bad meal in Italy, and there is nothing like a simple bowl of pasta!

  6. Barbara says:

    That is so weird that it wasn’t a staple at every restaurant. Granted, we don’t have hamburgers at every restaurant (almost!) but that’s not quite the same thing. I remember having spaghetti at a little outdoor bar-type restaurant on a beach near Venice in the 70’s (I think it cost .50!) and pizzerias on almost every corner. Times change. But then, we were on a really low, low budget, and our restaurant choices reflected that. 🙂

  7. I made it a point during my time in Italy to have pasta with red sauce nearly every day at lunch. I’m not an adventurous eater, and saved my appetite for dinner each day. It’s amazing how good it tasted!

    • I am not an adventurous eater, either, although I have had my share of great Michelin meals. This one just wasn’t. It seems like the weirder the better, as far as stars go.

  8. kim tackett says:

    When we were in Italy, our best pasta was our own. We hired a cooking teacher to come and cook with us….thinking it would be myself, my MIL and BIL…turned out the whole family got into it, including all five grandkids. She spent all afternoon with us, as we made 250 tortellis and and array of other food. Of course, we video taped the whole thing (with a big ass video recorder, it was 2002). It was the highlight of our trip, and I can still remember every detail of that meal!

  9. Went to Florence and Rome last year. We ate and drank across both cities. This post makes me want to go back tomorrow. Best food ever.

  10. Lynne says:

    Okay Carol, one more post like this, and I am going to abandon all responsibilities and bills, buy a ticket, and head to Italy!!!!!!! On a serious note, I love all these photos and posts. Thanks for letting me travel vicariously through you!

  11. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I adored the food in Italy. The freshness of the ingredients made everything taste so divine.

  12. penpen says:

    We are just back from a trip to rome-florence-brussels. Your post is a reminder that there are travel days when the weary traveler craves comfort food, and pasta with red sauce is #1 in the comfort department. Loved that thick, spaghetti like pasta we got everywhere in Firenze [where I found myself opting for comfort almost every night.] Moules-frites [the ubiquitous Belgian dish] couldn’t hold a candle to that pasta or those red sauces. thanks for the conmfort of the reminder.

  13. Carol, I am SO hungry after reading this. I’d share pasta, red sauce, and wine with you any day. I took a cooking tour of Tuscany several years ago – and still have the pounds to prove it.

  14. Ruth Curran says:

    I love the idea of cannoli for breakfast…lunch…dinner…desert :)! Glad you got your pasta!

  15. I love a good pasta and red sauce! I also love to make my homemade lasagna andvthis has mad me very hungry!

  16. Looks delicious. Especially the cookies. Love your title.

  17. bodynsoil says:

    Wow, I can cook italian well but still, these dishes are making me hungry for the real deal in Italy.. I think it’s time to visit the hubby’s family..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow Carol


Here you’ll find my blog, some of my essays, published writing, and my solo performances. There’s also a link to my Etsy shop for healing and grief tools offered through A Healing Spirit.


I love comments, so if something resonates with you in any way, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by–oh, and why not subscribe so you don’t miss a single post?


Subscribe to my Blog

Receive notifications of my new blog posts directly to your email.