Friday, May 18, 2018

ROYAL ALMONDS

I am a fan of neither weddings nor royalty but I am pleased to see a man who, however privileged, endured a terrible tragedy at a very young age finally obtain some happiness and OK - I am British enough to get just a little sentimental when I see TV pictures of that same prince striding out of the fortress that is Windsor Castle to meet the crowd and heading straight for one of the youngest members of it. Yes, I know it's only for a few minutes and that it is carefully planned and orchestrated by PR folk, but many in his place would not bother and it's  - well, nice.

Sadly, though, Harry, I've had to turn down your invitation - which I am sure is held up in the post - as I'm off to the Infiorata in Noto tomorrow. Now Noto happens to be in the Province of Siracusa, as is the pleasant town of Avola, which has a connection with the regal nuptials, for the confetti - little bags of sugared almonds - to be given as wedding favours at the event were made from the famous almonds which are cultivated there. The confetti have been produced by the Confetti Pelino Company in Sulmona, Abruzzo and no flour or cornflour have been used - just Avola almonds and sugar.  The Pelino company also made the confetti for the wedding of Prince Charles and the then Lady Diana Spencer.


This is a note on the etymology of the word confetti from a post I wrote in 2009:

The etymology of the word confetti is interesting because it means sugar-coated almonds [the type Italians give you before weddings, Christenings and graduations]. Originally, it was the town's aristocracy who got to ride on the Carnival floats and they would throw these sweets to the crowd. I can't help wondering if they caused any injuries among their targets!  Later. this practice died out and the gentler activity of throwing paper around replaced it. The Italian for what we know as confetti, by the way, is coriandoli.


Thursday, March 08, 2018

MIMOSA DAY



In Italy International Women's Day is widely celebrated and its symbol is the mimosa flower, because it is plentiful at this time of year. Mimosa bouquets are sold in the street, sprigs appear with your coffee in bars and pasticcerie make mimosa-themed cakes like these:



Almost exactly five years after the loss of the woman whose idea the mimosa symbol was, I thought I should repost what I wrote on the day of her death, 12th March 2013. Teresa Mattei has always been, and remains, one of my heroines:



Born in Genova in 1921, Teresa Mattei graduated in Philosophy from the University of Florence and became an antifascist campaigner. During the Second World War she was known as Partigiana Chicchi.  In 1946 she became the youngest woman member of the Assemblea Costituente, the parliamentary chamber charged with drawing up Italy's Constitution, a document which she defended throughout her life.

It was Teresa Mattei who had the idea of making the mimosa blossom the symbol of International Women's Day [8th March] for the simple reason that the flowers are in season in early March and can be obtained at little or no cost. 

Of the potential of women in politics she said,

"Women, in contrast to men, seek knowledge, cooperation and solidarity. They are the bearers of new life. They do not see society as being divided into classes but as a multitude of men and women with the same problems. Women can bring this new spirit into politics, but we have to create the structures that can allow this to happen."

Referring to the Second Prodi Government and its six women ministers, of whom only two had portfolios, she went on to say,

"These poor women can have no influence, because a minister without portfolio is unable to do what a minister with portfolio can, that is, to use a budget to put a plan into action. This is a very serious situation."

I think that first sentence is a metaphor for women's powerlessness all over the world.

Teresa Mattei died in Lari [Province of Pisa] today (12.3.13) at the age of 92.  I'm glad she saw this 8th March and, as she is laid to rest, the mimosa blooms for her all over Italy.

You are not forgotten, Teresita!

Thursday, March 01, 2018

ST. DAVID'S DAY 2018

Yes, I've had a long break from blogging, for health and other reasons but I've never let a St David's Day go by without posting and I will not do so now.  So HAPPY ST DAVID'S DAY, wherever you are!

Over at London Town Modica - Centro Linguistico Internazionale we've been celebrating as usual and even the Queen popped in:




Later we decided we needed more cake:



Whatever is going on in her life, a girl needs to keep on trying, so here are my St David's Day nails and top:



Bertie-Pierrine had a St David's Day haircut and is feeling very waggy:


And finally, some St David's Day music. I love this version of The Ash Grove:

Stay happy. Stay Welsh, even if you're not and stay kind!

Monday, December 25, 2017

BUON NATALE 2017

Not Christmassy but ..... perfect:

Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli - Perfect Symphony



Buon Natale a tutti!

Monday, December 18, 2017

IGNAZIELLA'S CRAFTS

These are some of the lovely objects (not the photocopier!) my friend Ignaziella has made this year.  They are on display in her shop. Isn't she clever?


CHOCOMODICA 2017

Hello and yes, I know, it's been a while again. This can be put down to trying to keep up with, and fight, Brexit and the fact that, with age, I am becoming rather grumpy. Or is it Brexit that's making me grumpy?  (Whatever your opinion on the matter, the impact is serious for expats.)

However, something that makes me less grumpy is our ChocoModica festival, which always begins on the 8th December holiday and signifies, for me, the beginning of the festivities. Here are some pictures to give you a flavour:

The torta di Savoia cake being finished below left, of which samples were offered to everyone, was the best I have ever tasted. The gentleman on the right seemed justifiably proud of his sculpture:



Lots of intricate work to admire and not only on chocolate:



How to choose which chocolate to buy? In the end I bought a slab of white chocolate topped with forest fruits because it is just.... well, you'll have to taste it to find out!  No trip to Modica Bassa is complete without calling in at the Latteria and Modican chocolate ice cream goes down a treat in the middle of winter. Only next time, turn the heating on, guys - please!




More chocolate sculpture work:



Sculptures of a different kind on display, made from clay and wood. Regular readers will recognise the Duomo di San Giorgio, Castello dei Conti and Teatro Garibaldi:



And finally, some more lovely crafts, among many others at the stalls which always accompany a Sicilian festival:



Well done again, Modica!

Monday, November 06, 2017

WAGGIES AND WHOOPEES

Well, I've had a bit of a blogging hiatus and I expect regular readers will be wondering how Bertie-Pierrine is. She's fine, thank you, but, like her mummy, she's not really keen on certain mornings:


The rest of the time, though, she's exceedingly waggy and can even do it to order:


She's an incredibly sociable dog and enjoyed herself immensely last night at the opening of my friend Tiziana's new premises for her very successful pet shop Le 4 Zampe. There were lots of both human and doggie friends there and you could hear excited barking and yapping all the way down our extremely long street! Doesn't Tiziana look glamorous?




Well done, Bertie-Pierrine for being a good girl at the party and lots of good wishes to Tiziana for her new shop.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

DONA NOBIS PACEM 2017



With thanks, as always, to the wonderful Mimi Lenox for her year-round work for this day.

Laura Pausini - Il mondo che vorrei

Thursday, October 19, 2017

SICILIAN KISSES

Can there be anyone who doesn't like Baci Perugina? I often buy just one in the bar, to see, from the saying or proverb inside, if this will be the day that my life changes!

But now they are even more interesting for, in their first special edition, they come with the sayings or proverbs in nine Italian dialects (with translations into standard Italian). The dialects are:  Pugliese, Genoese, Milanese, Roman, Venetian, Piedmontese, Neapolitan, Sicilian (I am glad to say) and, of course, Perugian.  You can't see from the blue and silver wrapping which dialect is represented in your bacio and so far, in the mixed bag I bought, I have found four sayings in Sicilian dialect. I'll just have to keep eating baci to find more!

I'm sorry the example of a saying below isn't very clear, but you will get the idea:

"He who expresses himself well, crosses the sea."


According to a survey carried out by the Perugina company, millennials are very keen to learn the dialect of their own area and I applaud this delightful way of helping them.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

(SLIGHTLY SICILIAN) CHOCOLATE REFRIGERATOR CAKE

Every cook, I imagine, has a favourite chocolate refrigerator cake recipe and this one, which I came across a few weeks ago, has now become mine. I did add glacĂ© cherries and I "Sicilianised" it by using three different flavours of Modican chocolate (lemon, Zibibbo wine and cinnamon last time). As it is the season, I also added six chopped sticks of the candied orange peel so lovingly made at home or by hand in the pasticcerie here. Go on, try it!




Sunday, September 24, 2017

THE END OF SUMMER

Summer has officially ended and, whilst I am not a beachy person and rejoice in everything at last being open again, I will be sorry to see the end of the gelato season and of its companions cremolate and granite.

Left to right:  granita di mandarino; cremolata di gelsi (mulberry); granita di pesche e fichi d'India
(peaches and prickly pear, the latter being a late summer addition to the granita repertoire)


My favourite peaches,  pesche tabbacchierie, get larger and less sweet as August ends but then these delights appear:

Centre:  frutta di Martorana
Right: "cakes" of cotognata (quince paste)



Finally, I cannot let the summer end without sharing this with you:  the other day, a Sicilian friend said he had spotted a British man coming out of the B&B opposite his house. I asked how he had known the man was British.

"Because he was wearing sandals and socks", came the reply.
Embed from Getty Images

Monday, September 18, 2017

SABATO MUSICALE ON MONDAY

I'm sorry there's been a bit of a break - blame the relentless heat, even for Sicily, this summer and, quite posibly, ageing!

Anyway, what better way to kickstart the blog again than with music? This is fabulous and comes from the Celebrity Fight Night Concert with Andrea Bocelli in Rome last week, where millions were raised for the Andrea Bocelli Foundation and the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Centre. 

I am sure you will join me in wishing the tenor well, as he was briefly hospitalised after a fall from his horse on Thursday.  He says he is fine and will travel to Jordan for a concert on Monday.

Andrea Bocelli and guests at Celebrity Fight Night 2017 - Imagine

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

TRUE LOVE

I just thought I'd let you all know that true love is alive and well in Sicily:


I don't know why the sea turned pink in the second photo - perhaps it knows fuschia is my favourite colour!

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