Sunday, March 29, 2009

Easter or theatre?

Is there any other place in the world where feast and theatre are strictly weaved together to celebrate the Holy Week? If yes please, I would like to know.

I've recently made a plan for some friends of mine coming from US and willing to travel to Sicily during Easter holidays. I suggested them to visit those villages and towns where those days going from Palm Sunday to Easter Day are plenty of both sacred and profane rituals. A very unsual journey into the hidden atmospheres of the Christian faith and the theatrical celebration of Easter.

I sent them some pictures and links about places and performances and ... they were shocked! Excited! Exhalted by the idea of actively participating to those celebrations both as actors and audience, as most of the local people do!

Every town and every village participates to Easter feasts with its own rituals deriving from usages and customs, from ancient traditions in which it is not always possible to find out origins and motives.

The list of those places is rich but I would like to mention some of the most interesting ones, those I find most picturesque and fanciful:

- The Holy Week in Enna with its climax on Good Friday
- The Procession of the Misteries in Trapani again with its peak on Good Friday
- The Devils' dance (Ballo dei Diavoli) for Easter Day in Prizzi, Palermo area
- The Judaeans' feast (Festa dei Giudei) for Holy Thursday and Good Friday in San Fratello, Messina area
- The Diavolata for Easter Day in Adrano, Catania/Mt Etna area.
Which of the above pictures refers to the above-mentioned feasts?

If you happen to imagine a travel to Sicily and maybe plan it, take into consideration Easter Week and enjoy with us our celebrations! Don't forget to celebrate with the right Sicilian Easter menu (I will post some recipes at soonest) and chocolate Easter eggs!
And in the meanwhile, learn how to say Happy Easter in Italian:

Buona Pasqua!

© Text and pictures by Doriana Briguglio

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Torrone catanese at the market

What do you usually do when you need to get inspired?
Ops, I'm not getting mad, don't worry, no knives :)

When I need inspiration I like wandering about Catania, aimlessly, just look at the people, the places and wait to be brighted with a brillant flash of illumination. Usually, it works. My camera is always with me, you'll never know!

I don't know why but these wandering often lead me to one of my favourite places in Catania: the market. Well, I should say there are two main markets who are worth to visit: the fish market (what a terrific place! I promise I will tell about it soon) and the "fera 'o luni", the central market where you can find almost everything, food, beverages, clothes, shoes, accessories, dress-materials, detergents, soaps of any kind. What do you need? Be sure you can find it there! Any traveller visiting Catania should stop at both markets: you will never forget the people, their shouts, the colours, the smells. You might be shocked or better delighted, in both cases a unique experience.
So, I was there last week and I was lucky enough to find something it is not easy to see: the torrone making.

What's the torrone? It's a kind of noughat made basically of almonds and honey and is very common in Sicily as a sort of dessert, sometimes even a sort of distraction, when you've got that yen to eat something or for pangs of hunger. It's part of the inheritance left by the Arab domination in Sicily (a lot of the Arab tradition is in our food and recipes).

I stood bewitched by the maker: his figure quite dramatic, a typical middle-aged Sicilian man of Mediterranean origins, his movements gentle and speed, his eyes dark and brilliant. I'd never seen torrone making before, I was ravished!

I asked him to give me his recipe to make the torrone at home. He was very nice !

1 kg of almonds
1 kg of sugar
4 spoons of honey
Some orange rind finely cut up
Olive oil
Half a lemon

1. Dip the almonds in hot water for a couple of minutes, peel them and then wipe carefully.
2. Pour the almonds, the sugar and the honey into a large pan and cook on a very low flame, stirring continuously to avoid sugar to stick.
3. Prepare the top, preferably a marble one, and wet it with some olive oil. Use a spatula and damp it with the lemon.
4. Wait until the sugar is melted, pour the mixture on the marble top and use the spatula to level it.
When it is cold, cut it in reatnular pieces with a strong knife.

Buon appetito!

© Text and picture by Doriana Briguglio

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Regina Lucia - interior and food design in Syracuse

A brand new restaurant in Syracuse, the Regina Lucia, located in Piazza Duomo: an excellent excercise of style for interior and food design in Sicily.
Syracuse is one of the most interesting and beautiful Sicilian town: it is a must-to-visit for everyone travelling around Sicily. I couple of weeks ago I was there with my husband to see what was new in town and Regina Lucia is definitely the most interesting news.

I said an excellent excercise of interior and food and design. The venue, more a multi-functionnal place than just a restaurant, is charming, the vaulted roof and walls of limestone dating back to the Sicilian Baroque-style period, late 1600, match perfectly with the essential and pure lines of the furniture.

The food tells about the territory, ingredients are fresh and local, the extra-virgin olive oil is delicious with the home-made bread. Each plate is quite balanced referring both to its flavours and its design. The chef is very young and very promising.

Let me tell you that the real plus of Regina Lucia is its staff: professional, corteous, smiling. Not very easy to find in Sicily.

And creative, yes they are. I'm allergic to a lot of things, I couln't eat any of the desserts listed in the menu. They came with a brand new dessert created last-second for me: a delicious just made almond torrone (kind of nougat) flavoured with lemon flakes and covered with segments of tangerins and chocolate topping! I was very honoured for this "Doriana's extravagance"!
Regina Lucia
Piazza Duomo 6, Siracusa
T + 0931 22509
© Text and picture by Doriana Briguglio