I have been jesting that I have had all four seasons in one month and that is how I contracted a very early Winter cold this year. But, really, it is true. Sparkling summer in Lyon at 35° to London’s Autumn (let’s call it Spring for the story), bouncing over to Ireland for our all year round same season, save two weeks of Summer. Then to an early Winter in Lapland where we were in single digit evenings. Now, HELLO summer in Sicily.
Hot hot hot, bright skies, turquoise seas, mosquitos a-go-go. And we’ve hit Autumn today with lots, and lots, of rain. Thundering rain. Wake you from your sleep rain. Electrical blackout rain.Flood your hotel room rain. Yes, it’s very wet here this evening.
Fabulous though, I have loved every minute. I am never happier as when I am on the move exploring, trying new things, meeting new people, exploring new food cultures, trying new tastes. Generally successful although Tuna Salami is not my friend. Is it anyones? It actually beats Sweden’s fermented herring with its unexpected fishy power and grainy texture.
And so back to Sicily. I am in a small town called San Vito Lo Capo, home to the 13th Annual International Cous Cous Fest, where I am a judge this year. There are ten of us on the panel, from a 2* Michelin chef, to a food journalist from La Stampa, a travel journalist from Condé Nast Traveller and three bloggers, two Italians and me. What illustrious company! More on that later.
For now, let me tell you about Sicily. Rough and ready at times and achingly real, Sicily has preserved many of its customs. Driving from the airport locals harvest salt in the old manner, melons grow, vineyards and olive groves abound. In the mornings men sell vegetables from their vans to old ladies sitting outside their houses.
Sicily grabs you by the throat and challenges you to disagree. The streets are full of gorgeous big flowers simple yet proud and brightly coloured. Cacti, bigger than I’ve ever seen, lime trees, berries. At streets the night smell of Jasmine, beautifully fragrant, like Jasmine tea but lighter, sweeter and more seductive. The sea whispers and glistens, people try to entice you to their restaurants, and the streets come to life quite late.
Here’s a selection of some photos, which will hopefully give you a taste of my experience. I am off to the Cous Cous Fest final now. All votes have been submitted. I am curious to see who wins.