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.
But 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-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?
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.
Like 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?
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.
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?”
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.
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.
And here it is, my very favorite dish of all. A dish of pasta with red sauce. Finally!
These tiny meatballs were almost as scrumptious as the larger ones my mother made. Yum!
And more pasta: cannelloni that melted in our mouths.
Some of my favorite Sicilian cookies, looking and tasting even better than what we had growing up.
And 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.