I have not been that into sage for a long while now; a fragrant, full leaved bundle has stood in a water filled mason jar in my fridge for so long now that it drank all the water and proceeded to wilt. Yet i did not change the little handrawn icon under my side menu's "i cant get enough" display (this is assuming that you visit my blog enough to have noted the icons presense at all), despite such obvious lack of interest in the herb.
Finally, i changed the picture, and not to another herb, or veg, or food anything, really. More like a food everything. Note the map of Sicily. Stop reading if you have to, maybe scroll down a bit, yep, there it is. Sicily. Italy's little island of not-so-little-flavours. Flavours that i have been cooking with, and craving when i am not cooking with, for as long as it took for that once beautiful bouquet of sage to parch.
It goes without saying that i love Italian food, but Italian food re-defines itself regionally. To begin to descriptively explain this would exhaust me (and it does, as i read cookbooks and literature on the subject late at night, eating cheese and chestnut honey and drinking grigio not gris--or marsala, or grappa...--to feel like i might be there doing the same). One such read, a cookbook, begins with a breakdown of the different areas, their typical cuisine, dishes, ingredients, drinks...and i have made a mess of it. Meaning, i took a pen as a read, and circled that which i loved in each place, double circled what i really loved (etc with the number of circles and amount of love until tornado-esque etching), sometimes underlined, or made a rather large box, chicken-scratched such exclamations as "lovelovelove," and "thats for me," replete with the occasional heart. This was my way of choosing where i would most love to live should i, i mean, when i, oneday live in Italy. I knew it would be Sicily (i didnt know, it could be Sardinia...).
The influences of such boat-ride away places as Morocco and Spain have left their travelling footsteps in Sicilian flavour. Saffron, mint, dried fruits, flavoured waters made from rose blossoms and orange flowers--the abundance of citrus! The abundance of seafood! Swordfish! On land: sheep, and their cheese; real ricotta as i cannot make it here (even though i did again tonight with the best local milk i could get my hands on; still from a cow though). And lots of veggies: cauliflower, eggplant, zuchinni, tomatos, fennel...All things i not just love, but cannot get enough of lately. And as i cook with them, i imagine what it might like to be there. I imagine it smells of salt, the sea surrounding it. Tasting salt too: olives and capers. I imagine picking my own lemons, tasting an orange as i have never tasted it before. Buying fish fresh from the sea; sardines, anchovys, fresher than i have ever had them. Experiencing a real Cassata (not like my sad, but funny, attempt last Spring), after the ceremonious Easter feasts. Feeling a bit edgy in a place with such spicy food and spicy mafia history. Loving feeling edgy.
My "cant get enough" love of Sicily has brought me to go one step further on this blog, adding a page for menus, where (in the next couple of days, hold tight!) you can check out two (for now!) Sicilian inspired dinners, personal tweaks added to "research" (read: sleep deprived obsessive reading).
Check it out, try it out. Take a vicarious vacation.
I ask too, do you eat vicariously? Where would your dinners tell me you would most like to be?