Sebastiano and I used to eat our meals on normal plates, but the farmhand ate more than we did and put his meals on his special dish called a lemma, which means “big bowl” in Sicilian.
The daily dish was pasta with cabbage and potatoes seasoned with olive oil. Meat was too expensive and not easy to get. Only when Sebastiano killed a rabbit or a bird did we have meat. On special occasions the farmhand wringed a chicken’s neck. In any case, we couldn’t preserve meat because we didn’t have a fridge. To keep cool, we used to put a watermelon or a melon into a basket and put it down into the cistern where the water was quite cold. The only thing that could be preserved for a long time was cheese, which was yellow because of the use of saffron in its preparation, and stuffed with black pepper grains. In the evening our food was lighter and consisted of cheese or poached eggs that Sebastiano, in a kind manner, forced me to eat.
The table was laid by the farmhand who never shorted us good wine. I was too young to drink alcohol, but Sebastiano used to pour a little red wine into my glass, diluting it with water. In his opinion, good wine makes good blood.
This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind