Sicily


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May 8th 2016
Published: May 8th 2016
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Guess some of you were wondering about the xxxxxx's in yesterday's blog. Could not remember the name of the huge, ornately decorated silver vessel that supposedly held some of the bones of St. George. The word I tried was not recognized by this program, so asked Luca and we finally just decided on a really big, heavy silver thing holding bones. Now the strange thing is, there is no proof that these bone fragments actually belonged to St. George. Seems the Catholic Church sometimes played pretty fast and free with the bone pieces they were selling as belonging to whatever Saint they claimed it was. Seems to be more than enough bones among all the churches to make several men.
Today we went to Castelluccio to witness a day in the life of a Sicilian dairy farm where we were to learn about some of the culinary traditions that have made Sicily famous all around the world.On the way, Luca old us a little bit about Mussolini and the Fascist state of Italy during the beginning of WWII. He said Mussolini was the originator of the first mass media campaign which Hitler used widely later on. The public was used to believing the printed word, so he controlled it to make it look like the war was going his way. No matter what the actual situation was at any moment, the news downplayed the bad and built up the good. There are still quite a few buildings in Sicily built to the Fascist ideal with the Fascist symbol on the architecture, but they are now used for local government.So back to the farm. The family greeted us and ushered us into there living room where we introduced ourselves and then learned about their family. We saw how,they made ricotta cheese by pouring hot water over the fresh milk, waiting an hour and then stirring it until the soft curds separate to the top. That was skimmed off and taken inside to make a thick soup-like dish. Then more water was added and this substance strained to get out the tinier curds, and then placed in about a 30 gallon pot over a wood fire and stirred a lot. Not exactly sure what happened from then, I got involved in the kitchen, but before we left the finished product was brought to the table for a taste. On the table on the patio were oranges for squeezing, loquats, carrots, walnuts and almonds for cracking and some candy. We took a walk and saw where their wine was made with this big press and old casks. Wine only ages 50 days before it is served at the table. Big difference between home-made table wine and the wines of Pelligrino is aging. After seeing the wine press, we hiked up into the olive orchard and there under a carob tree we had a small picnic of wine and homemade cheese with basil while the son told us about the orchards. They grow olives, almonds and carob for sale. Back to the farmyard where there were several cows and two calves in the barn, with about eighteen more grazing in the lower orchard. There was a pig sty with about 9 pigs and six piglets there. We were supposed to get fresh eggs for the dessert, so off we traipsed to the coop where we found not only chickens, but ducks, turkeys and rabbits all living together. Chickens were not cooperating and the son only found two eggs, so the mother had to come down and look. She must know her hens well, because she came away with more. About that time she gathered us together and showed us how she made bread. She makes it in such big batches, it would be an extensive labor project to knead it by hand, so they invented this large board with a stick about four inches around and five feet long that fits in a lever type area and someone pushes it up and sown while she folds the dough into the handle's path over and over. About seven of us took a turn at the handle. Then the dough was divided and we got a chance to finish the kneading and shape the dough into different designs. Meanwhile out on the patio, Alex, one of our group was using his dessert making expertise to make tiramisu. When lunch time arrived we sat down to garlic bread, sliced bread, olives, salami, cheese (just the appetizers), homemade red wine, fresh ricotta in a bowl like soup, salad, barbecued chicken and sausage, followed by more fruit. Then we finished it off with tiramisu, fresh strawberries with mint and coffee for those who needed it. Lots of people dozed on the way back.After such a dinner, we are all taking it easy. Mary Ann and I are going to have a gelato dinner, do not think I could eat much more that that and then relax this evening. Early start tomorrow to the last stop on this trip. Can not believe how the time is flying. Luca continues to be a wonderful guide and getting us where we need to be on time must be very hard on him. Put a grinch of senior citizens together and it is like herding cats. Get the majority together and suddenly something will attract a couple and they will wander off. I am hoping to come back someday and visit some of these places at a slower pace. I noticed several Best Westerns along the way.

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