I have a great deal to say about Sicily. I traveled there two years ago for two weeks. Late June and early July 2009. It was a very important, life-changing trip for me. I’ll be bringing several old posts over here as this blog grows, and adding some new reflections.
But today I’m thinking about Sicily because of the BBC4 radio program (or should I say…programme) the Food Programme (there). I listened two podcasts of two episodes from April - taped during mid-March and the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Italian unification. The pages I will link to are pages for each individual episode - where you can access the shows for listening on your computer but for a few weeks more you should also be able to download the podcasts of the shows here.
(Most BBC radio programs are only available in podcast form for a short time after the original broadcast).
But for now:
You might think that the last title is a stretch but of course it is not. According to the program, the Mafia began and found its initial strength in Sicily from controlling agriculture and transport of agricultural products. The hopeful part of the program highlights the efforts to fight back – beginning in the 80′s via judicial means but now taking a different form focussed on creating alternative structures of support that strengthen and protect businesses that refuse to pay the “pizzo.”
I loved Sicily. Listening to these programs made me yearn to return – I had hoped to go back again at least once by this point – two years later – but alas. that hasn’t happened.
Since this is a food post:
Fig-filled. From here – in Mussomeli:
From Pasticceria Maria Grammatico in Erice. On the tiny -tiny - balcony in back.
In Monreale. I don’t know the name of the restaurant – but it was behind the Duomo – at the end of a little alley with a spectacular view.
See? It was very exciting…
This photo does prompt a question, though.
Monreale sits on a hill (mon-reale: Royal Mountain. In another language, in another country – Montreal.) above Palermo. That’s Palermo you see spread out below. Palermo is a standard, regular cruise ship stop on Mediterranean itineraries. Taormina, too – but mostly Palermo. Do cruise ship companies pay out the pizzo in some form or another ? (I wonder the same of Naples). If they refused, would that not have a huge impact?