The Squad (As My Father Likes To Say)

In 1950, my father Peter (Pietro), uncle Stefano, and grandmother Lorenzina traveled to Sicily from Brooklyn for a 3-month visit. The five cousins standing on this hill overlooking Porticello and Bagheria–Pietro, Stefano, Franco, Pietro, and Mimmo–bonded that summer. I’m fortunate to have met them all. What a gang! Have you met your relatives in the…

The Sea At Zafferano

“The sea at Zafferano flashes cross my mind… I come from a braver kind… I feel so alive, I feel so sure, with the sun on my path and the wind at my back…” Capo Zafferano, pictured, and my grandparents’ immigration from this area, inspired my song and performance, “Jump,” released ten years ago this…

Feels Good To Be Home

It feels good to be “home.” When I see Capo Zafferano, pictured, and swim in the sea below, I am in my land. These are the waters where my grandfather fished and swam more than 100 years ago before emigrating to the United States. It’s an amazing feeling to think of him and my grandmother…

Ricotta is Right

This beautiful plate of “pasta alla Norma” was my dinner back at the beginning of June in Bagheria, Sicily my grandmother’s hometown. It is the classic Sicilian pasta dish, made with maccheroni (in this case rigatoni) with a light tomato sauce, sautéed (or fried) eggplant, grated salted ricotta, and if available, fresh basil. Please take…

Pesto Control

Local trattorias, like one of my all-time favorites, Don Ciccio in Bagheria, usually offer seasonal specials that we covet because they only appear on menus annually, when the produce is fresh from the garden. For example, this bucatini pasta appears to be dressed with a familiar basil pesto; however, basil is not the base here,…

Sfincione for Christmas Eve in Sicily

Very different from our Italian-American tradition for Christmas Eve, which is to have a large, family meal often featuring fish, the tradition my cousins in Bagheria, Sicily follow for “La Vigilia,” is to have sfincione Bagherese along with pan-fried cardoon (artichoke thistle) and maybe a small serving of pasta. Pictured is my cousin Evelina’s favorite…