Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Vucciria Market

You know I have been reading Midnight in Sicily*. Yesterday, I was able to place some of the landmarks mentioned in this book. The Vucciria is the most famous market in Palermo. It is situated in the Caracciolo Square and along the narrow roads in the Loggia district. It dates back to the 11th century. I read where it started as a meat market..developing into one that sells fruit, vegetables and fish. Renato Guttuso a famous Sicilian artist from Bagheria painted La Vucciria promoting more interest in this market. Here is Guttuso's painting and also my photo. If you look close ..you can see the baby eggplant presented like eggs in a carton.

It is still offering fruit and vegetables, stalls selling spices, Panelle and fish. Vendors claim the market is not one tenth of the size it was in its heyday. Monday is not a good day for selling fish, so we did not get to see any of these shops.
We did come across a man selling Tuna fish eggs. This stuff was selling for €100. per kilo. This is the sack that contains the fish eggs.

The author of Midnight in Sicily writes about this area. He also mentioned sitting in a Trattoria high above the street where he could look down at its activity. I wonder if this is the same place that we saw.

I got to try my first panelle and a delicious shaved veal sandwich, fast food Palermo style. The panelle and the veal were saturated in oil. One being deep fried and the other splashed with oil. It was delicious just the same.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Pasta Contest

The contest continues thru midnight August 6th, my time. We are six hours ahead of the east coast in the USA. You can leave your guess here or go to the original contest posting .
Above is Antonio Amato pasta one of the very best. Some people call it Sunday pasta!
Good Luck!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Feature

Kappa is a brand of casual sportswear originating from Turin in Italy. Several national sports teams including the Italian National Soccer team have or are wearing clothing by this brand. In a town about 15 kilometers away there is an outlet featuring Kappa clothing besides a few other brands.

Since I heard this outlet was having a sale, I encouraged my New York friend to make a trip with me to see what they were offering.

There were a few interesting items but we didn't drop much money there. However the interesting thing about this store is that you can see online just what they have for inventory before you go there. So if you are looking for a special style or size...you have this information right at your computer screen.

Once you get into the store you are offered another shopping convenience. There are monitors over the bins of clothing articles that will let you know the price and also the location of other colors and sizes of each article. If the customers return clothing to the bins they found it in ...all is according to their plan. You select the article and place the bar code under the arrow. Up comes information about the article including price, colors and sizes available and location and amount of inventory.

I am showing a couple heavy duty sweatshirts that some of you might be interested in and the screen showing the price. I DID look all over this store for a shirt that had PALERMO written on it for my Blog friend GT to see, but no Palermo in the entire store. Not that there won't be a Palermo shirt tomorrow or another day. Stock changes daily.

We bought a couple visor hats and some socks. No big ticket items in our bags. But, you never know when we might be back. We said good bye to the Juve kitty and had a nice ride back along the beach road.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Years ago a man named Russo left money to install a bell in the church tower. This bell chimes the hour on the hour...quarter hour and half hour.. again on the three quarter hour. It is also a signal to the town when Mass is going to be said in the church. It gives a certain tone that lets us know when someone is getting married and also when someone has died.

We have heard this bell too many times this year for family who have died. This morning it sounded again. One of our beloved cousins passed away in the night. He wasn't a blood related cousin. When you marry into an Italian family you automatically take the relationship of the family member. Andy and I think he was more than a blood cousin. He was a true friend and a good man.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Celebrate....Come on!

Oliveri is a pretty town. It is surrounded on three sides by mountains and the other side borders the Tyrrhenian Sea. Just a delightful vacation spot until the big feste of the summer. Then it becomes a mecca for vendors selling just about anything you can imagine. This year marks the worst of the worst. Almost every major through way is lined with these vendors. I hope the town is making some money off them. One lane of the beach road has been blocked to accommodate their stalls. The soccer field has booths in three rows. They are to be here through the middle of August. For me it blocks access to the beach. Some of the stall owners sleep in their cars or on the beach. I don't see any toilet or wash facilities so this is also a problem. I might be in the minority but I don't think this is a good thing for this town. Especially for an extended length of time. Here are some photos of the booths and items they are selling.

How about a few more......

Add to this the games of chance and the carnival rides....

Did something catch your fancy? I know it was the *water pipe*---or that lounge chair?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Feature

What better feature could I post on July 20th ...than ME. It is indeed my birthday and I had a great day. It all started off with an invite to have breakfast at the brand new PortoRosa Hilton Hotel. It was a bacon and egg, waffle, apple juice, fruit extravaganza. There was everything you could want and a great atmosphere. I really enjoyed this treat.

Thanks to my family and friends for calls and cards and gifts...and especially to Andy who really wanted me to have a great day.

My daughter sent me a Red Velvet Chocolate Cake Mix and that was devoured before I could get a photo. It was a delicious. I am looking forward to this next year and wishing it to be the best one ever. I have the magic wand to make it so!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


It tasted better than this picture looks. Andy says you don't see these yellow watermelon too often. Muscaredu is the Sicilian word for this melon. It tastes really good. It had better as it was expensive...like buying jewelery!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


This contest will end on August 6th. The winner will be announced shortly after that date and will win a Sicilian surprise packet.
You must guess the amount of pasta we have in my house on today's date in pounds. We buy pasta in 1000g and 500g packages.
Anyone can guess but only one guess per person. If you have ten people in your house they all can have one guess.
In case of a tie there will be a run off. Guess away!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bragging Rights

This is just too nice a picture not to include it on my BLOG. It wasn't caught in Sicilian waters but caught off the shores of Chatham in Massachusetts by my son. This makes a vacation
S P E C I A L !!!!!!!!!!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday Feature

We haven't had any spontaneous fires this year and the vegetation still look pretty green. But it is normal for fires to start up into the mountains. Friday's Feature is showing the planes they use to pick up water from the sea to douse those fires in the mountains. I imagine some places would be very difficult to maneuver a regular type firetruck to.

This week we have seen these planes swooping over the roof tops and down close to the water.

It was windy that day as you can see from the clothes being blown around on the clothesline. He made about a dozen runs and lets hope that he won't be fighting any the size they are having in Utah.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


We arrived bag and baggage in 1992 to Oliveri from Newport, RI. At that time I did not know how much history would be happening in Sicily and Italy in that year. A friend loaned me the book Midnight in Sicily and it reveals just what we immigrated into. I am only four chapters into this book and am happy to have it on loan to me.
It was the time of Lima and Ciancimino..Giulio Andreotti... Falcone and Borsellini ..and Totò Riina. They are or were government officials, anti mafia lawyers and mafia heads. This book explains alot of why Sicily is the way it is all going back to the time the Arabs were the dominant culture.
Back in 1992, the major cities in Sicily were policed by the military. Posted outside banks and offices were young fellas with heavy armor. You were stopped often for a vehicle check on the road ways. It was the beginning of the trial of Giulio Andreotti and his famous kiss with Totò Riina. I had read in Time magazine, that Andreotti was associated with the mob and when I mentioned this to a cousin he was outraged. This book explains Sicily's allegiance with Andreotti. He needed them to be able to form a government and he was Sicily's tie to Rome's government.
We were interviewing high schools for our son in 1994 and posted outside a school building was one of these military guards. Not all schools are in school buildings as we know in the USA. Some are in office buildings and are state schools. His middle school had suggested we choose a school heavy in art for our son, as he has a talent in drawing. We asked why the military presence outside the building and was told that there was an office for an anti mafia lawyer housed one floor above this school.
Today we don't see any of the military guards. Banks and other places are guarded by private company persons.
Our son did not choose this art high school but went instead to Liceo Scientifico, which is very close to a USA college directed school curriculum.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


My new and wonderful iron (separate water tank type...heats up beautifully and glides over the fabric) came with a super pronged plug. There are several types of plugs that come with appliances. Never fear you can get adaptors for any and all of them. Sometimes you might need two to make it work. I suppose it wouldn't take much for an electrician to replug the iron but it works with the adaptors.

Now how do I work with the USA 110 voltage plugs into a 220 voltage Italy system. Why just use a converter. This plug came with our paper shredder. Andy also uses converters in the shop for some of his tools.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

All I see is Eggplant

Wait that' s not eggplant that's Eggplant Involtini. This is an old game made up out of boredom. Just keep changing the noun. We have an influx of eggplant and I made Involtini for lunch. My South Beach friends might want to tune out. But I think if you eat just one it wouldn't be much over 75 calories.

Ingredients include:

2 medium eggplant

bread crumb

soft cheese

tomato sauce

cooked ham

parmesan cheese

white sauce



bread crumbs

Place the sliced eggplant in a strainer with salt to drain liquid. Make tomato sauce and a white sauce. I use this recipe for white sauce.

2T butter

2T flour

1 cup milk

grated nutmeg


The eggplant needs to be fried on both sides till slightly brown. Don't overcook as it needs to be soft enough to roll.

Mix the bread crumbs with the parmesean cheese and chopped basil. Add some olive oil to bind ingredients together. You all know how to make sauce that you like but check out the pan the sauce is cooking in. (This pan is over 40 years old. It was purchased from that guy on USA TV who used to bang pots and pans together. ...waterless cookwear! I was lucky to receive a set as a gift. They all look just as new as the day I got them and I use them every day.)

I use small toasted bread to make crumbs. I think they must be like Melba Toast.

The next step is to place a heaping tablespoon of the crumb mix onto each eggplant slice. Then top with some cooked ham and a cube of soft cheese. I am using swiss cheese. That doesn't sound right to be using in an Italian recipe but it gives a good taste and melts just right. Roll the eggplant and cover with more breadcrumbs before placing them into a pan that has a layer of sauce in the bottom. It will make 18 to 20 rolls. We had some extra eggplant so Andy will have a small casserole to snack on later.

Mix the white sauce with the remaining tomato sauce and pour on top of the eggplant and finish with a sprinkling of parmesean.

Bake at 375° for about 30 minutes. You will see it begin to bubble.

I baked it in my little oven. We bought this DeLonghi before we had our kitchen finished 15 years ago and it is still going strong. Nice not to heat up the whole kitchen. We gave some away and had some for lunch. It always tastes good. Now...

dishes, dishes ...all I see is dishes!