Something that I was not expecting when traveling to Cefalu was to be able to experience so many home-cooked Sicilian meals. It was surely an honor to see my family in action, grilling pork over a grill made of bricks in the ground, or to taste homemade pickled artichokes and wine that was made in the backyard. I felt like Anthony Bourdain when he somehow is able to eat at Nonna’s house in Sardinia, except this was my actual family.
It was our second-to-last day in Cefalu, so we visited our family in Lascari, which was a short ride from Cefalu. My father’s cousin and her husband picked us up from our bed and breakfast. We rode in separate cars; I rode with Tommaso, who began spitting out Italian (or should I say Sicilian) to us as if we were pros. Spanish was my first language, and although I am no longer 100% fluent, I hear it 50% of the time from my mother, grandparents, etc. This gave me a leg-up in Italy. I could understand bits and pieces and usually make out what someone was saying. Sicilian Italian, let me say, was a lot more difficult for me to decipher than the Italian spoken in Rome!
We drove for about ten minutes, and soon made a right turn into the neighborhood. Driving through what felt like (or may actually have been…) ten feet wide dirt roads, we arrived at the home. After greeting everyone with hugs and double cheek-kisses (Sicilian style, not Real Housewives style), we were given a tour of the gardens. Fig trees, lemon trees, orange trees, olive trees, grape vines, basil, rosemary, sage, zucchini, I was in heaven. Concetta (home owner) showed us her huge basil plant and said “molto pesto!” And I thought “hell yes.”
We all gathered around a table outside. The breeze was perfect, the temperature as well. After some gabbing, my father’s cousin, Giovanna, and her daughter, Concetta, began to bring out the antipasti. First of all, I had no idea we were being fed. This is always a pleasant surprise. Second of all, I was not expecting such a beautiful spread. Italians really take care of their guests. I was so grateful.
Sardines, bread, cheese, sausage, caponata, eggplant with mozzarella, plums with yogurt, and more. By this point I’d learned my lesson: don’t eat too much because you don’t know if more will be brought out. After one taste, this rule flew out the window. Thankfully, this was the extent to our antipasti, and soon enough we were off to enjoy pizza in Cefalu. All of us hopped in cars and headed back to Cefalu. We parked and walked by the beach just as the sun was setting.
We made our way through the streets to Via Roma Vecchia. It was beautiful; right on the water. Tonight had previously been declared pizza night, so we each ordered pizza. Everyone’s order was unique to their taste, but my mother and I shared a tomato, cheese, and basil pizza, that came out to us with no basil. It was still good, no complaints. Below is a sausage pizza my father ordered, which was exquisite.
It was so great to be able to see where my family comes from, and to discover what great chefs they all were. Every dish we experienced in Cefalu was so simple, but bursting with flavor. This is the kind of cooking I enjoy.
A little garlic and olive oil go a long way.