A Wonder-ful Morning in Sicily

March 2, 2013

After three days of dreary downpours and hellish winds–during which I worked so slavishly on a translation that getting out of my PJs completely slipped my mind–Saturday dawned sunny! I put on real clothes and clickety-clacked my way down to the piazza with Marcella Hazan in my bag.

I dropped into a chair, leafed through Marcella, and wondered: will I EVER be able to cook like an Italian?

I am studying this 1973 book–bought for a buck at a library sale–as if it were the Bible itself. I’m trying one recipe a day and have loved every one. (The updated version is Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking).

Sicilian Breakfast, copyright Jann Huizenga

Then I looked at the palms waving overhead and wondered: Will you survive, dear friends?

Horrible winged black bugs are eating palm trees to death in Sicily. Our piazza has already lost one. I mourned it like I’d mourn a best friend.

Palm trees in Ragusa Ibla, copyright Jann Huizenga

I looked to the right and I saw a gaggle of guys. I got up and asked for a photo. They were a little shy, especially when I spoke to them in English. They wore braces. They were sweet sixteen.

Sicilian Teens, copyright Jann Huizenga

I remember the braces I wore at that age, gap-toothed and horribly shy.

And I wondered: Would I like to be sixteen again?

Would you?

***

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44 comments to A Wonder-ful Morning in Sicily

  • Hi Jann,
    No I do not wish to be 16 but I keep on loving your photos.
    I will be in Ragusa 13-15th April and would like to meet you. I wish to bring you a copy of my book Sicilian Seafood Cooking. We could perhaps have a meal together in Ragusa Ibla, what do you think?
    Marisa

  • the palm bug is really distressing

  • Oh I would love to be able to cook currently my husband does 90% of the cooking, but I’d love to be able to sing as well so maybe this is my year to take on these new talents. As for the 16 thing no I wouldn’t want to go back unless I could hand that gawky spotty sixteen year old back like you do with a new baby to it’s parents. I am happy where I am and enjoying seeing our children experience all those youthful adventures. With just those few simple questions Jann you totally transported me to another time xxx

    • Jann

      Such luck to have a cooking husband. I am very jealous. Watching kids go through life is like experiencing it yourself. So in a few years, you’ll get to do Sweet Sixteen two more times.

  • thank you. my epitaph.” MY FAMILY TREE EVOLVED QUITE NICELY”

  • when i was sixteen my mother, my father and the police invited me to join the navy
    last year my sixteen year old grandson was invited to be a student at harvard

    • Jann

      Well, Dennis, can I say your family tree has “evolved” quite nicely??? Congratulations to you and your grandson!

  • Rachel

    I spent my summer in Sicily at 16, with my father and grandmother returning home for the first time in 30 years.
    It was a summer of firsts for me, pampered, shown off as the 1st grandchild, even a little love sprinkled into that summer! I
    would love to return to those innocent, happy carefree days. My Nonna (now 96) and I still talk about those days,
    Always planning our next trip.

    • Jann

      Rachel, thank you for leaving this heart-warming comment. Of course you want to return to age 16 with memories like that! How very special. Keep planning your next trip. Your Nonna sounds AMAZING.

  • lucy

    You bet I would!

  • Aw, the boys are cute. Shy and proud, all together. Love the composition, Jann.

    16 again? Mama mia, no! I was so self-conscious I should have been issued with a suit of armour as an act of charity ;)

  • Sam

    The photo of the boys in front of the cathedral gives one hope for the up-and-coming generation of Sicilians.

  • come back to my 16 years??? bella domanda..
    I really don’t know…….maybe yes ..maybe not
    I enjoy the freedom I have now..freedom to have my life in my hands
    …….buono studio..I think I have a good book x you!!
    when we meet, it will be my special present x you
    ciaoooo
    ps. I’m happy that you like Dolce&Gabbana new collection speaking Sicilian!! :-)

    • Jann

      Oh, che bella sorpresa about the book! I love all books! (I posted your blog link on my FB page re the wooooooonderful D&G collection.

  • Love the photo with the cute teenage boys. I just adore boys of all ages! It made me dream of their futures and speculate what they would “turn out to be.” There is something so ….special is the only word I can come up with right now…the young boys and the ancient church in the background. Wow! Only in Italy and with Sicilian boys.
    Don’t you suppose the black bugs are a result of climate change? CRINGE!

    • Jann

      Ciao Caterina–I’m so glad you liked the photo of the boys. Yes, they sure look Sicilian, don’t they. Sicilian all wear black or dark dark blue all winter long, so they’re very typical in this respect, too. The black bugs seem to have arrived via Africa, and I’m sorry to say I’ve heard they’ve migrated north to other parts of Italy. Not sure if they’re due to climate change or not, because everything’s so intertwined these days–economies, social problems, diseases, climate.

  • Gorgeous breakfast Jann. I would love to think we might share a cornetto e cappuccino one day….. Love your morning musings and the people you so winningly persuade to join you and us on the blog. It makes the world feel so much warmer and sweeter somehow. x

    • Jann

      Thank you Janine. These kids were darling. They were even talking about how much they love their English teacher and they wanted to know all about my blog. Pretty unusual for kids that age.

  • I would hate to be sixteen again. Though it wasn’t all bad… But I’d love to be in Sicily, under those azure skies (not the rain), sipping a coffee at a cafe in the piazza, gazing up at the palm trees, and swooning over the gorgeous peach tones of the cathedral. I’m glad I’m not the only one who sometimes forgets to get out of her nightclothes during the day…but I blame it on the snow…and Photoshop.

    • Jann

      I think the heavy snows you’ve been having in Canada give you the right to stay in pajamas for weeks at a time, Lynne. With the covers pulled up over your head.

  • Ah Jann..to be sixteen again? Interesting question..the answer may have altered the course of my life. I am happy to leave it just as it was! Enjoyed your post…I was right with you and gave it a little tweet this fine morning in Saigon…
    Warm wishes…
    Jeanne xx

    • Jann

      Hi Jeanne–how exciting to hear all the way from Saigon!!!! Please eat some pho for me. And thank you so much for the tweet. Much appreciated. I’m going to go over to see what’s new at your great blog. Ciao for now.

  • How funny I just bought that book at a thrift shop for $3.50!The essential one……!!I too feel like you will I ever be able to cook like an ITALIAN!You have reminded me to go study!

    • Jann

      My dear Contessa, I’m happy to have reminded you to go hit the book! I discovered that there was a 9-person blog project to try all the recipes in Marcella’s ESSENTIAL book. So if you find a recipe you want to try in the book, you could check that. Buon lavoro & buon appetito!

      http://www.slowtrav.com/blog/pomodori_e_vino/

  • Susan

    It is always a pleasure to see your photos and read your stories Jann. I was in Ragusa 2 years ago and had a lovely time strolling through the park with the colonnade of trees, hopefully they won’t fall victim to the bugs. And no, 16 again, no thanks :-)

    • Jann

      Ciao Susan–welcome to the blog–it’s so good to hear from you. The trees in the park are still fine, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them, too.

  • Love your pictures and dialog…I would love to be 16 again if I could know what I know now, ;-)

    • Jann

      Thank you Jo! But that would be cheating, Jo, to be 16 yet have all the wisdom you have now. It sounds like the premise for a movie!

  • You definitely need to take us along on your cooking journey, Jann! As for the little black bugs, shame on them for destroying your palm trees. And no, I wouldn’t want to be 16 again for anything — awful, clumsy year. The only thing worthwhile about it was getting my drivers license, ha!

    • Jann

      Aw, Debbie–I’d have to start a whole new blog for the cooking journey. And then I wouldn’t have time to cook. :(

  • Adore Marcella + your photos. 16 would be alright if I could take what I have learned back with me(then I would be known as a smartass)xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

    • Jann

      I don’t know, Peggy. Can you imagine being 16 with all your 16-year old friends, and knowing what you know now? Would you really have the patience to go through high school again???? :)

  • I just love Marcella. She has taught me so much – like when it’s best to use dried pasta and when fresh rules. I would not ever, ever want to be 16 again. But I love the young’uns in your photo.

    • Jann

      Hmmm, Rosann. I have not yet gotten to that part about when to use fresh and when to use dried. I haven’t even gotten to the part where I have to start making fresh. I’m putting that off as long as possible.

  • John Schinina

    Ciao Jann, 16 was a wonderful year for me, I graduated High School and spent the summer in Ragusa Ibla with my family. I enjoyed it so much, that I overwhelm myself remembering. I envy you on your quest in wonderful Ragusa Ibla, thanks again for your blog.

    • Jann

      Well, John, you sound like one of the few people here who wants to re-live 16. But I can see why. Sure hope you get back here soon!!!

  • 1. please place some of your Italian Recipes w/ photos on your blog. mmm
    2. the black wings bugs are devils.
    3. the little boys are lovely!
    4. love the cup with fluffy coffee drizzling agaist the white
    5. 16 again? Yes…so I could be w/ KAY all over again!

    Xxxx LOVE flowing to you, dear Jann.

    • Jann

      1. will try, cara mia.
      2. yes, devils.
      3. sweethearts.
      4. love “fluffy coffee”!!!
      5. of course.
      xxxxxxxxxlove blowing back to you, Kim.

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