Ciccina, Sicily

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When I was younger, we had no such thing as this primi, secondi nonsense. We just put everything we had on the table and we’d feast. Taiano is one of my favourite dishes and I love it because I make it with all my heart for special occasions. Traditionally, we would make this specifically for New Year here in Sicily. Now when the family comes together, I’ll also make it on a Sunday. We would prepare this three or four days in advance of the big occasion because it’s such a lengthy process.

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I began to roll pasta from when I was very young, probably from the age of ten. In fact, I still roll my pasta on the same wooden board I learned on. I like making the pasta myself, it reminds me of the times spent with my own mother and grandmother, rolling pasta together.

Around that time, Sicily was being heavily bombarded. I remember because we would hide out in the countryside during the bombardments. Of course, the reason for leaving our home in town was the war but I loved it because it meant I could be in countryside. We had a cart that was pulled by donkeys and we’d travel from town in it.

We grew our own wheat on a plot of land and we’d make our own flour. Depending on the season, I’d plant broccoli, potatoes, onions, work on the cotton harvest or the grape harvest, then of course we’d make wine. The land was basically our livelihood.

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I was 26 years old when I married, which was quite late for those days. He was my first and only love and a golden man. He left for fourteen years to work in Germany and I never went to visit him once. He’d come twice a year and they were really the only times we would go out. I didn’t dare go out without him.

I would ask him what he was up to over there and he’d always respond, ‘I am faithful to you’ but you never really know. He was a man. I don’t know what exactly he was doing for those years but what I do know was that he was coming back to me.

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I don’t like the life young people lead these days. For us, it was one man forever. Don’t imagine that when you’re married to someone, there won’t be fights and that everything will be perfect. After ten years of engagement now, people can divorce and exchange people. Do you think that’s a better life than the one I led? The most important thing is respect and understanding between a couple. You have to love them and respect them, in spite of it all.