Wednesday, January 6, 2010

'Sicilians are tired ...' 7/11/09

Loads of food got thrown out yesterday. It is the cooks’ job to manage the food. I asked on Sunday about everything in the fridges and the cuoca went through everything. And still the chicken had to be dumped. I spent DAYS on that menu trying to minimize wastage, we gave them the cooks the raise they wanted and what are the results? It was very quiet last night and the cuoca was supposed to cook the cozze (mussels) because they had been there two days in a bucket of water but wouldn’t be good the next day. But she didn’t do it – and today they had to be dumped as they were starting to open their shells. It’s no good just asking them to do things: you have to actually then check that they have done it. And they really hate it when I check on them … They ordered 3 or 4 more packs of potato chunks for the patatas bravas but unfortunately mio suocero bought the wrong kind. So when an order came for patatas bravas they were about to send the waiter off saying there were none; but I remembered three huge sacks coming in from suppliers not long and had a look in the freezer; sure enough, under a few crates at the bottom, were two huge bags of potato chunks … the cuoca said cheerfully, to avoid blame, ‘We’re in luck! Look two packs down here!’ I said, ‘yeah, where were they when you were writing the shopping list?’

Yesterday I was looking at ‘Il Gattopardo’, ‘The Leaopard,' Tomaso de Lampedusa’s classic about the disintegration of a noble Sicilian family in the 1800s, though written in the 1950s and intended to show the cracks underneath the surface of contemporary Sicily. Lampedusa writes that Sicilians should leave Sicily at the age of 20 and make their lives elsewhere … ‘or they will not be saved’; and how the climate is really harsh - scorching heat beating down on your head for 6 months of the year and then torrential stormy rain for the winter. Which is true so far. The unbearable heat of summer has been followed by fierce wind and immense rains causing big leaks in our house.

I said I had the impression that Sicilians don’t even like each other; mio marito said ‘True; they only become Sicilian when they leave Sicily. They are Italian here in Sicily.’ But people here trust no one, only family and only just about I reckon. There is such a sneaky air around of being watched. You always expect to be truffato (cheated) here. With the history of repression and mafia and being controlled, said mio marito, are you surprised? 'Sicilians are tired,' says Lampedusa, tired of being repressed and watched and colonized. No more patience left. Great.


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