In the first part of this post I looked at some of the differences between the two southern Italian regions of Puglia and Sicily.
The second part of this tale, which was inspired by a aperitif with two young ladies – Ilaria and Giaia, will look at some of the similarities of these two hot Italian regions.
There are also two interesting mini-documentaries on Palermo and Sicily which are worth devoting part of your lunch break to – but beware, watching them may well cause you to book a holiday to either Sicily or Puglia, or both!
As you may remember from Part One, whereas Puglia has developed a work ethic, or at least discovered that it can make money from tourism quite easily, and Sicily has yet to come anywhere near to understanding just what a work ethic is, the two areas of Italy do have things in common.
Puglia and Sicily’s Common Interest – Food, Food, and, Much more Food
One thing Sicilians and those from Puglia share is an undying love of food. When Sicilians or those from Puglia call their offspring doing internships up here in Milan, the first question is not ‘How are you?’, but ‘Have you eaten?’!
From what Ilaria told us, her mother seems to spend most of her time planning the next meal and then preparing it. Both of these tasks are undertaken with relish. Apparently when Ilaria’s mum worked, she would get up at 5.30 in the morning to start cooking up food for breakfast! Such is her enthusiasm for food, and, for ensuring that everyone is well fed.
Guests, who are most welcome, are fed until they burst, and then asked if they would like more.
Similarly in Sicily, food is next to godliness and marriage, and forms an integral part of the culture. Yes, both Sicilians and people from Puglia live to eat.
Here is a mini-documentary video for your lunchtime breaks which shows off Palermo in Sicily and its wonderful food to great effect. As you will see, Giaia’s Palermo is a mouthwatering place in more ways than one…
Street Food – Palermo – 5 Dec 08 – Part 1
This was the first part of a two part series by AlJazeera English. It should come as no surprise that AlJazeera shows some interest in Sicily, which, after all, was under Arab rule for more than two centuries.
The Deadly Sin of Eating Alone
Eating alone in either Puglia or Sicily is seen as some form of deadly sin, as dining must bed done, at all costs, in company. Anyone who eats alone is considered to be distinctly anti-social, or just plain odd. Indeed, I heard from one of the two ladies who led to these two posts, that if her mother discovers that she is about to commit the sin of eating alone, then a phone call is made by said mother to a relation in Milan, and, as if by magic, an invitation to dine with this Milan relation materialises.
Such is the importance of eating in company for southern Italian families.
Most may have heard about the tight knit nature of Italian families, and it will thus come as no surprise to learn that in both the southern Italian areas of Sicily and Puglia, the family is so important that the expression ‘tightly knit’ is probably something of an understatement.
Unless you are part of a family, you are not to be trusted, and this distrust of those not in the clan extends to business both in Puglia and Sicily, where cooperation between companies is virtually unheard of. Levels of distrust in Puglia are phenomenally high, from what Ilaria said.
What is not clear is just why people are so distrustful of one another. I suppose the only way to find this out is to delve deep into the history of the Living Museum, but seeing as this is a mere blog post, and not a Phd thesis, I’m going to see whether others can provide some explanation as to why Italians, particularly in the south, are so fearful of being ripped off by anyone who is not part of the family.
Still, despite the distrust which exists, it is possible to penetrate the fabric of families in both Sicily and Puglia. And once penetration has been successfully achieved, you will be treated like royalty, and, of course, fed until you are ready to burst.
Actually bursting is probably not a great idea, for the hospitable inhabitants of these food obsessed areas of Italy will no doubt assume that you need filling up once more. Help!
The concept of calorie counting is as alien to southern Italians as the work ethic is to the average Sicilian, or so it would seem.
And to end this somewhat long account of Italy’s quirky south, here is the fascinating second part of the AlJazeera English Street Food in Palermo series – which starts with something about Sicily’s most infamous organisation, the mafia, and then there is more about the influence of food on southern Italian culture.
Street Food – Palermo – 5 Dec 08 – Part 2
Sounds as though Sicily should be quite high up on that ‘holiday destinations’ list! And don’t forget Puglia either. Or why not spend a week in Puglia and another in Sicily, then come back here and let us all know what you discovered?
Those on modest budgets might like to check out my Hostels in Italy post, whereas others might quite like to have a play with interesting new hotel matchmaking service which goes by the name of Gekko. Then there is always my series on bed and breakfasts in Italy, where you will find the Home From Home Bed and Breakfast in Sicily and the Villa Miller Bed and Breakfast, in Puglia.
In case you missed Part One of this two part post – it’s here: Hot Italian Girls From Puglia and Sicily – Part One
Once again, thanks to Ilaria and Giaia for having inspired this account of southern Italian culture, and cuisine.