Sunday, April 3, 2011

Festa di Domenica

Before we arrived in Sicily we had hopes to meet some nice people and if we were lucky maybe even make some new friends. However, we weren’t expecting to already be considered a part of the (extended and strangely fair skinned) family, by our third week here. But apparently this is exactly how we are seen by our new friends at the pasticceria who invited along to the country house of a cousin for a Sunday get together. We didn’t manage to figure out the reason for the party, but we have a suspicion that Sicilians just like to spend an entire Sunday surrounded by family, eating, drinking and having fun.

The little house we were guided to was small and modest, but beautifully placed among an orchard of orange and banana trees with soft rolling hills as the backdrop. We arrived later than everybody else, and were told that the majority had been there since 11am for the unveiling of the home-made ricotta. Luckily, our friend, who had been there since the crack of dawn helping with the preparations had saved some for us, and was eager to find out what we thought.

But before we had any chance to taste the wonderful sweet home made cheese, we were heartily greeted by everybody. Our daughter was again showered with compliments and everyone wanted to hold and kiss her. We don’t know if it was the warming sun, the joyous atmosphere or just her growing up, but for the first time, our little one didn’t seem to mind being passed around everybody, being tickled, kissed and talked to. In fact, she seemed to enjoy it and we were happy to see our little blond bundle of joy appearing in the middle of the crowd, smiling, laughing and picking oranges.

So whilst she was well taken care of, we were also cared for, with food, drinks and constant encouragements to have more. After the delicious ricotta that left us thinking that we will never buy store ricotta during our stay here, there was home-made Italian-style bread, with a nice crust and a slight sweet flavour. We seemed to be the only ones eating but soon the smokey scents from the barbecue that was being prepared behind the house, made us understand why. Everybody was waiting for the salsiccia!

As the non-meat eaters we are, we were secretly hoping for a small break to digest the wonderful ricotta and bread, but the Italians had other plans for us. In the little kitchen behind the patio, the women had been baking more than 60 panini shaped breads in a proper bread and pizza oven. On the other side of the kitchen, in two big oven dishes, the house olive oil, made from the olives from the garden was mixed with salt, lots of garlic, oregano and anchovies. When everything was ready, the women proudly presented the bread, the flavoured olive oil and said it was time to eat…again! Suddenly everybody was being served with warm bread, generously soaked in the oil, with anchovies or salsiccia in between the slices. We had both eaten good bread and good olive oil before, but never anything tasting quite like this. The simple combination of just the right flavours; the garlic infused oil and the anchovies, was heavenly.

The short walk that followed was a welcome break from eating, and a siesta would have been perfect upon our return, but then there was no time for that. At the house, the tables had been cleared for the fruit and the…you guessed it… dolci! After a sweetened fruit salad a huge cake was brought to the table, decorated with the simple message “Good Sunday” and our thoughts were…can a Sunday be any better?

It could actually. After all the hedonistic food intake, a guitar appeared and a few of the men gathered to sing, everybody else gathered to listen, clapping and singing along to the Italian (or were they Sicilian?) songs. Even our little one was enjoying the music, clapping, dancing and trying to sing along, much to everybody’s amusement.

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