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Community Forums › All Things Italian › Books and Movies › my favorites on sicily

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my favorites on sicily


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dvaccaro
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Joined: Mar 19, 2008
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Location: Minneapolis, MN

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 11:41 pm    Post subject: my favorites on sicily Reply with quote

i have amassed a pretty nice collection of books on sicily and the italian immigrant experience over the years. some are currently out-of-print, but i imagine they could be found used or in a library if you looked around.

here are a few i particularly enjoyed, from a cultural, or genealogical standpoint and some that were simply entertaining reads (not in any order):

Easter in Sicily [Herbert Kubly]

Blood Washes Blood: A True Story of Love, Murder, and Redemption Under the Sicilian Sun [Frank Viviano]

The Ten Pains of Death [Gavin Maxwell]

Reunion in Sicily [Jerre Mangione]

Sicilian Lives [Danilo Dolci]

Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons [Matthew Fort]

Pomp and Sustenance: Twenty-Five Centuries of Sicilian Food [Mary Taylor Simeti]

Sicily: Three Thousand Years of Human History [Sandra Benjamin]

Unto the Sons [Gay Talese]

La Merica: Images of Italian Greenhorn Experience [Michael A. La Sorte]

La Storia: Five Centuries of the Italian American Experience [Jerre Mangione & Ben Morreale]


there's a start...
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Carole
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 4:06 am    Post subject: Re: my favorites on sicily Reply with quote

That is an impressive list of books you have there...

I must admit that 'Pomp and Sustenance' sounds more than interesting. I must also admit (to my shame) that I know very little about 'real' Sicilian food and wine. OK I know, and love, a good bottle of Nero D'Avola and I really liked 'Scacciata' (Sicilian cheese pie) the few times I've tasted it... but I know little else.

You've now whet my appetite and curiosity - I'll have to check out some Sicilian recipes and learn more.

If this is just 'a start', then I'm looking forward to seeing the remainder of your list.

I wonder if any of our members has a 'home tried' recipe for sciacciata?

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tjbrn
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:52 am    Post subject: Re: my favorites on sicily Reply with quote

I had high hopes for Unto The Sons but was disappointed with it once I read it.

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dvaccaro
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 10:19 am    Post subject: Re: my favorites on sicily Reply with quote

tjbrn wrote:
I had high hopes for Unto The Sons but was disappointed with it once I read it.

my dad didn't much like it either saying, "i lived it." anyway, i really did get into it.
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dvaccaro
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 10:37 am    Post subject: Re: my favorites on sicily Reply with quote

Carole wrote:
You've now whet my appetite and curiosity - I'll have to check out some Sicilian recipes and learn more.


check out "Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons"... a nice summer read. at the end of each chapter are recipes for the dishes the author tries while scooting around the island on a vespa.
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Carole
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 11:15 am    Post subject: Re: my favorites on sicily Reply with quote

dvaccaro wrote:
Carole wrote:
You've now whet my appetite and curiosity - I'll have to check out some Sicilian recipes and learn more.


check out "Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons"... a nice summer read. at the end of each chapter are recipes for the dishes the author tries while scooting around the island on a vespa.

Thank you Dave - I'll keep an eye open for that one!

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dvaccaro
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:42 pm    Post subject: Re: my favorites on sicily Reply with quote

Carole wrote:
Thank you Dave - I'll keep an eye open for that one!


no problem. ...and it's "Dean" by the way.

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Carole
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:11 pm    Post subject: Re: my favorites on sicily Reply with quote

dvaccaro wrote:
Carole wrote:
Thank you Dave - I'll keep an eye open for that one!


no problem. ...and it's "Dean" by the way.

Wink

Oops - sorry! Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed

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DaveFerro
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:18 am    Post subject: Re: my favorites on sicily Reply with quote

Dean,

Just add my recommendation to the Sandra Benjamin book - Seeing Carole's replies brings back memories too.

May I also add a criticism and more books?

First heard Ricbru suggesting this book, Sicily, by Sandra Brown; so when I saw it on the shelves at the library, I immediately picked it up. Checking the index, I looked for my grandfather's hometown of Siculiana - a long shot as it is small. There was a reference to Siculs though. This was in a footnote, referring to the Sicels and Sicani in the text:

"Modern Italian calls them, respectively, Siculi and Sicani. The termination "-i" is an Italian plural. 'Siculi' is accented on the first syllable, 'Sicani' on the second: siculi, sicani. To help distinguish visually between these similar names, I've spelled the name of the eastern group as Sicels and the western group as Sicani.

The Sicels may not have been indigenous: Thucydides thought it probable that they came to the island of Sicily from the Italian peninsula. In those far-off days the king of the Sicels had a son named Italus, whose name was given to the Italic people. And now we know the origin of the name 'Sicily'."

Well, that eliminated the connection to my grandfather's hometown. This commune only dates from the Arab times and the name means 'home of the Siculi'. I had no problem distinguishing the two names. Then I found that the name Sicels was just the English name for Siculi in the dictionary.

In the text, she says "Compared to the Sicels in the east, the Greeks thought the Sicani of the wide center to be sparser and friendlier." Perhaps the Siculi did not appreciate the Greeks taking over their land very much.

After reading the book, I found it to be very informative - though some the translations of the names of some towns and their histories were different than what I had read elsewhere.

What I was trying to learn was where did the peoples of Sicily come from. Some books say from the mainland - Samnites who moved down the peninsula over centuries giving the names to the various areas. And some others that one of the peoples came from Spain (the Elymi, not mentioned in this book). But the Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Germans, French, Spanish, English make their mark.


A favorite is Johann Wolfgang Goethe's Italian Journey 1786-1789. This translation includes drawings and painting of the scenes in Italy where Goethe lived, some by himself but most by friends he met or from Germany. He traveled through Austria into Italy and describes the soil, rocks, climate, fauna, flora down to Rome and to Naples, also to Sicily. He wanted to see the wheat that was spoken about so much, but did not see on the coasts, so they cut across the island, bypassing Siracusa, to Catania. Now it was monotonous wheat fields for miles and miles.

One particular description was that of the Roman holiday known as cuccagna - and a great two page painting of a racing scene to illustrate as well. I had heard the word before, but that did not do it justice. Here Goethe puts you right in the middle of the crowds.

This brings to mind another book about Fiorello La Guardia by Bella Rodman. At the end of the press conference on the day he took office as mayor of New York City, only one department head was retained. All others had connections to the Tweed ring; at least this person tried to do his job.

Getting up, La Guardia said "E finita la cuccagna!" and left. The reporters asked what that meant. His friend replied "That means No more free lunch!" Now I know what the historical meaning is. And that was basically riotous.

Thanks for the other book suggestions - will look them up- only a few years late.

Dave

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