Sicilian Markets

IMG_2832Ortigia is a rich mix of architecture, historical ruins, chic boutiques, expensive yachts, food stalls, fish vendors, hippie shops, artisan jewellers; fishing vessels, grandiose palazzi, impressive piazzas, churches and chapels; ice-cream shops and authentic restaurants.
 
Even though I have visited this place over and over again, I keep finding hidden shops and interesting parts of the island that previously I have missed. And shops close down, other open. New trends take over. Had they not paid the 'pizzo' to the mafia? Well, the little shop that once was a hat shop run by an old lady that reminded me of Miss Hannigan from the film Annie, has now magically turned into an ice-cream shop (thank God for that). And not only that! All the ice-cream is served in ice-lolly form. Ice-creams and sorbets on sticks. Covered in chocolate, in crushed pistachio or just plain. What a smart idea. All the passers-by seem to be tempted. The ice-cream looks pretty, is small enough not to spoil your dinner; the display is inviting, and the colours…. they look like a crayon box. Splendid.IMG_7732

Pistachio with crushed pistachios of course…that one wins me over.

As good as I expected it to be….

A wander about the shops, a quick visit to my friend at the fish house (which is a ceramic fish market – a scorpion fish for my collection), a walk through Duomo square  (wedding going on here), a stop at the deli shop (mm…what did I need? ah, yes, fresh yeast, cavatelli pasta, a bar of  vanilla chocolate and water), another stop at a very nice souvenir shop (Ortigia pomegranate hand cream and a cook book had my name all over them), Lucia's shop full of nicknacks (a rice-crispies retro tin), and all of a sudden I realise that I should head back. Firstly to get rid of all the bags and secondly because i need to halt this sudden burst of shopping.

Wandering back to my fave B&B in the Giudecca area (the Jewish quarter), swinging my shopping bags, lost in thoughts, on the left side of the road it's all happening…another wedding, another bride, another groom, more guests. Sicilians….They walk the walk, they talk the talk. Even the cats look Sicilian here. And on my side of the road, a stray cat and me. I look at him. Grey tomcat, walking Sicilian, long white socks on his hind legs….I smile, nearly laugh. Never seen anything like it. The capo of the cat mafia. He is one tough cookie. Something must have happened…. the wedding party got too loud and he is scared off? Or was it the marriage that does not appeal to him? "No no no…. this is not my scene" he must have thought.

 

He runs away from the wedding…I run away from the shops.

Claire Borg

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Grilled Fennel Salad

By 11th October 2013

I first tried this salad during one of my shopping trips in Sicily. I was in Modica to be precise, for lunch with a friend. Unusual, crunchy and tasty. In Summer, the fennel is not grilled. For the Autumn months, a warmer version, with grilled fennel is prepared.  A very interesting salad indeed.

Instructions

Cut the fennel in half and slice very thinly. Season with salt and pepper and toss in some oil. On a very hot griddle, grill for a few minutes until cooked but still crunchy. Peel and slice the oranges, and arrange the grilled fennel with chopped mint and fennel tips on top. Usually this is served with Sicilian Baked olives. Serve warm or cold.

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