Today’s Sicilian Surprise

December 15, 2013

Every day in Sicily brings some weird new surprise. And I mean every single day. The day before yesterday, for instance, I was approached by a man in his cups who made hound-like eyes at me and said, “Only a woman can save a lost man like me.”  Yesterday the surprise was hearing that a dastardly new tax on my house is due tomorrow. Today as I dropped a wine-bottle into the dumpster, I saw at my feet a cardboard box full of….I don’t know what. A treasure trove or pile of rubbish? (I carted it home all the same.) You be the judge.


Some things in the box were in twin sets, but nonetheless they emit the smell of loneliness.  Do the Grecian ladies have anything to do with Sicily’s Greek past? Who owned these oddities, and why did she ditch them?


Are these the most God-awful bud vases ever created, or are they handblown Murano glassware?

3In person, statuesque Cleo is nearly the size of a toilet bowl, and made of similar material. (Come and get her if you live nearby!)


This is my favorite of the found items, because I know it is an original Sicilian kitchen thingamajig–thin wood wrapped around a fine mesh net. But what is/was its specific use? You’d think I would know these things by now, but I have no idea if it’s an old pasta strainer, a flour sifter, a rice washer, or ???



Here’s the dumpster with the box in question.


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A Pair of Painters, Sicily

August 14, 2013

The hungry Sicilian sun gnaws at my doors, chewing them to pieces.

Green door in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga


Who do I call?

My pair of painters: Graziano and Giovanni.  (Not only do they paint, they correct my pronunciation! Thanks guys!)

A pair of housepainters in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

Sicily is a group society. People stick like glue.

Plumbers work in pairs.

Police work in pairs.

Painters work in pairs.

Of course no one in Sicily is working NOW: it’s August! 

Are you working now, dear Reader, or lolling on some beach like a Sicilian?


PS Happy Ferragosto!


Welcome to my Sicilian Kitchen

July 22, 2013

In Sicily I’ve pared my kitchen down to the bare essentials: a set of mis-matched dishes and bowls, one frying pan, a toaster. No freezer (one of the best gelato shops in the world is just down the steps). No mixer (good exercise, beating egg whites by hand!). No tea kettle (pan works, no?). No microwave.

More happy with less. Took me years to figure this out.

What I keep above my deep stone sink: two colanders, potholders knit by local ladies, a dried round of the local bread, measuring cups and spoons.

A glimpse of my kitchen in Sicily, copyright Jann HuizengaThe salt (sale) pot is filled with Sicilian rock salt from the Trapani salt pans. The old coffee grinder, gifted by my simpatico orange-suited garbage man, reigns like some kind of Platonic representation of  Human Sweetness.


The Moroccan tea glasses from the Modica flea market, 1 apiece, remind me I must get back to Morocco. The little clay bird-whistle is a good luck charm from Matera, that amazing town in Basilicata that looks so much like  Sicily.

Moroccan tea glasses, copyright Jann Huizenga

The whisk, a Sicilian antique, unleashes flakes of paint as I stir my lemon gelo. I fish them out, dreaming of the Sicilian housewife who once upon a time long ago concocted this very dessert with this very whisk…kitchen stuff

Spice jars are fun to look at, even when it’s way too hot to cook.

Spices in my Sicilian kitchen, copyright Jann Huizenga

Thanks for visiting la mia cucina siciliana!!!!



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Buckets & Bins: A Sicilian Life

July 12, 2013

You need at least a dozen if you live in Sicily.

One to wash dishes, one to schlep wet towels from the machine to the clothes line, one to hold clothespins, one for picking or storing oranges, one for mopping stone tiles, one for the compost, one for glass, one for plastic, one for paper….

They must be in a rainbow of colors, so that you don’t mistakenly schlep the clean laundry in the floor-mopping tub or wash the dishes in the compost bin.

In Sicilia, you’ll find them liberally sprinkled around balconies and back doors, like urban bouquets.

Buckets in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga


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Mickey in Sicily

July 2, 2013

When you meander through shadowy lanes in summertime Sicily, just before dusk, surprise is always right around the corner.

Out of nowhere a blind courtyard will appear–the kind you don’t see till you’re right in it.

That’s how I met Smiley.

Up he popped from his yellow seat.

Sicilian Family in Summer, copyright Jann Huizenga

Rushed at me like I was the long lost friend he hadn’t seen in 50 years.

Sicilian Family in Summer, copyright Jann HuizengaCiao! he cried.

Ho 5 anni!

Si, mi piace Topolino (Mickey Mouse)!!

Sicilian Family, copyright Jann Huizenga


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