Friday, August 6, 2010

My Sicilianised accent and the Paella success

My accent has been Sicilianised. All traces of the Tuscan are gone. I heard it when a fake Milanese (the Sicilians who go to Milan for work and acquire the Milan accent because it makes them feel superior) asked for a Curuuna. A what? Do you mean a Corona? But what I heard myself say sounded like Cohrawna, with the typical broad Sicilian vowels. Probably akin to a Castlederg accent if you are from Tyrone. Oh dear.

But having a more local accent helps when dealing with the locals. They understand me better. It makes me less foreign to them, less daunting. I can rattle off the house antipasto without batting an eyelid (la parmigiana, la caponatina, involtini di zucchini, melanzani ripieni, cozze al limone …), tell you what meat you can have in your panino : bresaola, carpaccio di manzo, prosciutto crudo o cotto. These words are a struggle for me since I don’t eat meat and so don’t actually know what the ham in question is like. But I sound convincing. Likewise I am most convincing on the beers, Sicilian, Italian and foreign, even though I haven’t tasted a single one of them. The Menebrea we have on tap, for example, is an award-winning birra artigianale from Biella, near Torino. And I can tell you what grapes are in your wine – Grecanico, Cataratto, Insolia (white), Nero D’Avola or Syrah (red) being the most common in Sicily, or recommend fruitier or crisper white wines, full bodied lighter reds. I’ve come a long way, managing to get these culinary tongue-twisters rolling off my tongue like a native.

Our billboard with the paella picture must be working because last night the two terraces were full and there was a paella at every second table. There is an increasing optimism at our tables, an increasing appreciation of the way we deal with our customers. Courtesy, humour and culture are served up in higher doses than in other restaurants. So we have noticed some locals, holiday makers or boat people (yachting staff) returning for more. Now they say on their way out, See you soon, or We’ll be back to try more from your menu … to try the paella, or whatever. Most encouraging. In fact, we are more relaxed now with the new cook in the kitchen. There was one slight delay yesterday for a paella, the fourth or fifth of the evening …but it came from a family who were getting steadily drunker on cocktails, most unusual, though we’d brought them nibbles on the house and a cheese and ham platter to start. But we can be confident now that the meat will be good, the fish will be good, the pasta will be tasty, the paella just right, the salads nicely presented.


  1. Hi,

    we're staying in Milazzo in October and would like to come for tapas! Where is your bar, and can you recommend anywhere good to stay?



  2. Hi Matt, good to hear from you. We are in the borgo antico. It is the old part of town, the Spanish quarter, which you would probably want to visit anyway, with the amazing castle (it is huge - has guided tours) and all the picturesque cobblestoned streets. We're on Via Duomo, 11. But you will see us on the left as you go up the hill, tall yellow building with the Pachamama sign on the wall.

    Places to stay: right on the sea there is a good B&B called Casa del Tono (€60-70 for the room), and a lovely little boutique hotel called Esperia (€100-120 for room I think) though you can check the websites. They are good for being near the sea but if you don't have car it's a bit of a walk into town. In town, the hotel Cassisi is lovely, 3star I think, very reasonable rates too. It's close enough to be able to walk to beach or up to the old part of town. You'll get good rates everywhere because it is low season.

    Make sure you got to the islands - Stromboli is the best. Stunning.

    When you come in to Pachamama make sure you let us know who you are - if I am not there, my husband (marito) or my sister-in-law (cugnata) will look after you very well.

    A presto!

  3. Cohrawna.. unni si rici r'accussìni? Unn sacciu ri quali accìantu sta parrànnutu ma in sicilianu dicìimu sìanz'àvutru CURÙNA o CRUÙNA. Salutamu