fussy eaters

100. Italy: Sicily: Egg Plant, Pine nut & Raisin Fusilli

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Every time I hear Sicily The Godfather theme song starts playing in my head! Sorry for the stereotyping… but after the research I did I am apparently not that far off. Sicily is still largely ruled by the Mafia, and I don’t think it’s as romantic and exciting as it sounds… It just means lots and lots of corruption. The Mafia is an everyday part of life in Sicily, I mean over 80% of businesses in Palermo pay pizzo (protection money). The strangest thing is the government only recently (1992) started fighting back against the mafia, before that no one really cared… Imagine having your country been taken over by organized crime and no one actually giving a damn about it. Nonetheless, the island of Sicily is supposed to be extraordinary, and I really really really wanna go there especially since Palermo the capital has been awarded the title of best street food capital of the world!!!

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Things you didn’t know about Sicily:

  • According to Greek mythology, ships that pass to the Messina strait between Sicily and Calabria are in danger of being attacked by Scylla and Charibdys, the monsters that guard either side of the narrow passage. This myth gave rise to the expression “between Scylla and Charybdis,” a local equivalent to “between a rock and a hard place.”
  • The Sonnet! The most famous of all traditional poetic forms, consisting of fourteen lines written in iambic pentameter with an elaborate rhyme pattern, was originally invented by a poet from the Sicilian school, Giacomo da Lentini. From Italy, the sonnet was taken to France and England, where writers such as William Shakespeare made extensive use of the form.
  • The hilltop town of Corleone has become synonymous with the Mafia: the place where bosses Salvatore Riina and Bernardo Provenzano were raised was also chosen by Mario Puzo as the home town of his characters in The Godfather.
  • While the Invasion of Normandy, or D-Day, is celebrated as the great turning point of World War II, it is also true that the invasion of Sicily by the Allies in 1943 was an earlier victory that began turning the tables on the Axis powers. Codenamed Operation Husky, the battle lasted for 38 days and culminated with a decisive victory for the invading Allied forces.
  • Sicily is rich in ancient Greek ruins, and many say that they surpass in beauty those found in modern-day Greece. For a long time, the ancient Greeks controlled a large part of the island, mostly in the eastern region around Syracuse, where the famous mathematician Archimedes was born. Well-preserved Greek ruins still remain in Syracuse, Taormina, and near Agrigento. The latter is the location of the famous “Valley of the temples,” a collection of seven different temples dedicated to different Greek deities.

This is basically my twist on Pasta a la Norma/caponata, Sicilians love eggplants any way they can get them so almost every Sicilian dish contains them. No problem for me since I really like eggplants. This is pasta I have been making for years, one of the first recipes I came up with myself, by simply being broke and working with what I had laying around… Back then I used canned roasted eggplant and canned tomatoes and all the spices were dried and that works fine as well but fresh veggies are just so much better believe me. And on the plus side, it is really quick and easy.

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Mango Salsa

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What I love about this dish is hard to describe I guess it’s the combination since I’m not a big mango lover. I know really really odd but as a kid I couldn’t stand them. I was quite the fussy eater, I am forever grateful to my mum for forcing me to try everything, and making my eat those dreadful mango’s kiwi’s and drink glasses of fresh orange juice she pressed herself every single morning. Yes I did not make mornings easy for my parents, breakfast was always a struggle, since I didn’t like bread or fruit or milk. If it had been up to 4-year-old me I would have eaten dry cereal without yoghurt or milk (yoghurt or milk made my cereal soggy and I hated soggy cereal) or even better nothing at all! I even would have skipped lunch. Luckily I had a strong mom who refused to give in to my tantrums. So mom’s with fussy eaters as children, make them try everything, they will thank you one day! Dinner however was and is the happiest time of day for me, since my mom is an amazing cook! I ate everything I could get my hands to, from oysters to lobster to foie gras to brussels sprouts. But back to  the mango salsa, since a few years I love mango. I was looking for a refreshing, colorful salad and stumbled upon a great mango salsa and I found it. It’s quite spicy because of chili but you could always adapt the chili to your own taste. I like a little kick so I added an entire green chili! I served salsa with a nice piece of grilled salmon, but I bet it tastes epic on a taco! Mango Salsa This recipe makes enough for 4 people as a side dish Ingredients: 1 fresh mango cut into cubes (learn how to do this the easy way right here), 1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped small, 1 green chili deseeded and finely chopped, 1 red onion, 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro, juice of 1 lime, salt to taste Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and let stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes in order for the flavors to marry. That’s it! No oil nothing else! Finito! DONE!