Culture? At once obsessed and ignorant of the riches surrounding one on any given day in almost any place. Sicily is dripping with history. At the same time, the citizens pile trash, in the cities, in the country, with a disregard for their natural surroundings.
Food? Lord. I haven’t found any place on the Italian boot that defies what people think Italian food is as well as Sicily. Never once in a week of adventurous eating did I ever see truffle oil, balsamic vinegar or over-refined olive oil. Garlic? If it was there it was in the chorus, it wasn’t the fat lady. What I did encounter were sesame seeds, everywhere on the breads, the cookies. Eggplant, so many ways I lost count. Tomatoes performing yeoman service, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Seafood, swordfish, tuna, spigola, octopus, gambero rosso. Crudo, roasted, grilled over coal, fritti, marinated. Heaven. Even the offal was unavoidably seductive. Spleen, intestines, things without names in English. Not what folks think of in America when they think of Eye-talian food.
Marsala, in general. Struggling to be relevant in a digital, iPhone6 world. Marsala will be here after the iPhone is relegated to the dustbin of technological advance.
Everywhere. Not just on Etna. Everywhere. In Licata I had one of the great Nero d’Avola wines I will ever have in my life. It made me cry. It makes me cry thinking about it. Just a simple barrel. Sitting there since 1998. Full of the sugar of the Sicilian sun and made for the sweet-dependent palate of one whose DNA made those dependencies seem so very normal and natural. I can still taste the wine, even through the fog of jet lag and the muck of morning coffee. I brought one small bottle home, to drink the night before I die, somewhere in the (hopefully) very distant future.
Yes, wine. And the land the wine comes from.
There will be more. You will get sick of this and stop coming here. The readers will dwindle to a handful, only my mom, my sister, a few close friends. This is my paradox. I have found something I really love and it will probably turn you away. So be it. This is all vanity; it will not be pulled down here. Not now. Not yet.
Sicily called. It was impossible to resist. Once again.
written and photographed (with the exception of the first image, by Salvatore La Lumia) by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
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