Saturday, January 9, 2010

Capodanno Sicilia 31/12/09

Yesterday I went down to the capo again where something good always happens. I took my time going down through the sunny olive groves and macchia mediterranea covering the cliff, and when I got down to Venus’s Pool, there was a blond lady in swimming, in her late 50s or so, her husband just got out of the water when I came down. She was there like Venus, herself. She was enjoying having the pool to herself, it was a moment like that in the Dolce Vita when Anita Ekberg prances around in the Trevi fountain. She said it was a bit cold but worth the thrill.

Who was there but the lovely boy I met in the early days when we had just opened. He works in Brussels in immigration. Little by little it came back to me. The was girl smiling in the sun on the rock where I had been yesterday, was his sister – who has an Irish boyfriend, and lives with him in London, as it turns out. He said but when you come back here and find this splendour, beautiful weather in December and the capo you think of coming back. I said mio marito would say no way. I mentioned the recycling and rubbish problems, among others, and the sister ‘who stayed’ as they called her, the other sister, said – ‘We who live here, and see this every day, we hate this stuff too. I think loads of people would collaborate if we had the option of recycling.’ They said it was the nicest locale in town.

These people would be our friends if they lived here. Sometimes it feels like all the most interesting people left. They were such fun. So happy. The sister is doing a PhD on the religious symbolism in the mafia. How interesting the way they were different to the sister who had stayed behind. They spoke differently, had a light in their eyes, whereas she had a sadness, a frustration, even though she had the positive energy too. But she said, ‘It is sad to see so many people leave amareggiati, bitter and frustrated. We are frustrated we too who live here and face it every day.’

On the way back up the cliff people kept stopping to look back at the orange glow of the setting sun behind the last promontory justting out into the sea to the west. Dinner was back at my suoceri, and even more uncles and aunts were there last night – about 25 people were stuffed into the kitchen and sitting room. You could have dined on the antipasti alone. There were torte salate – pies with sundried tomatoes and primo sale cheese and another with anchovies and capers, savoury pastries my brother-in-law’s mother had made, marinated prawns, fried neonati fish (the name put me off trying them – 'newborn'), a courgette ‘torta’. Then smoked salmon risotto. Then huge, tasty grilled prawns in breadcrumbs, braised over the barbecue outside, it was such a warm night. Of crouse there was stock fish, as expected. There was so much food being passed around the table, there was hardly time to eat with all the passing around of dishes. The table was so long you had aunties calling from one end, ‘Where did those prawns go? Pass some down this way!’ or, ‘OK, stop sending food down here, we have enough!’ Limoncello and almondy torroni came afterwards, but we left before the card playing and prosecco began, to get to our friends’ party in time for midnight. In fact, we got there with two minutes to spare, before the house erupted with prosecco tops flying off, and kisses and auguri galore. Musician friends took up their instruments and played to get us all dancing, while guest helped themselves to leftovers on the sideboard and drinks on another sideboard. Capodanno in Sicily.

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