My brothers and I are 1st generation Sicilian-Americans and we have definitely had the privelege of visiting our parents home town a few times in our lives. Such a wonderful place to visit, the culture, the beautiful nature and the people. I can honestly say, there are certain smells that invoke such wonderful memories! Our parents are from a small live-off-the-land town. My mother really had to deliver the milk before school and again after. People were farmers, fisherman, butchers, seamstresses or barbers. Even today, my family members grow extra produce or fruit to barter with their neighbor for milk, eggs or bread.
I remember on one of my visits, there was a small fire in the mountains. I watched as a plane scooped up the water from the sea and dumped it on the fire to extinguish it. Or watching the fishermen in the morning selling their fresh catch of the day. You truly don’t know fresh seafood until you have eaten it within hours of catching it. We have even gone diving for sea urchins, a true delicacy in Sicily, and eaten them on the boat with nothing but a loaf of bread! I was captivated then and I am still captivated now.
No matter what age you are when you visit Sicily, something about it will consume you. Whether it be the Sicilian proverbs, back to basics agriculture, family values, or the neighborhood commraderie. Something will stick with you for all of your life! I am finally at the age that the proverbs make sense, so I will leave you with one of my favorites!
Nun si po’ aviri la carni senz’ ossu
(You can’t have good without some bad)