Each day we have been given an Italian word of the day from the schools executive chef, Mario. Todays word was “pazienza” which means patience. This of course was perfect for the day today because we made bread! Anyone that has ever made a yeast dough understands that it is a process that requires much pazienza. Between all the time needed to perfect the dough, and waiting for it to rest and rise, much time is required. We also made couscous from scratch, by this I mean that we actually took the grain used to make couscous which here is an ancient Sicilian grain and created the couscous shape entirely by hand. I was fascinated by this process. Never in my life would I have ever thought this could be done without some kind of press or machine or equipment. In the US we obviously have a much different type of couscous available to us. What we can get is packaged and pearled and perfect. This is not what real couscous is, as I learned today. This is also a concept that requires much pazienza. The couscous itself takes time to make, then a broth base must be prepared, and the couscous must cook above in a ceramic steamer for about an hour and twenty minutes, after that it must rest for another hour before eating. The broth is strained and poured over the couscous and vegetables when served. It is perfumed with cinnamon which seems odd to go with savory vegetables and broth, but it is extraordinary. The complexity of a dish like this which to the eye seems simple plays out a much different way when it hits the tastebuds. An entirely new world of flavor is explosive to the senses. A dish like Sicilian couscous is important because it is a perfect example of the variety of flavors found here in Sicilia. It invites the palate to experience a world in which many cultures and people have created on this island. I am learning that each flavor and ingredient here on this island have a purpose and story within the history of Sicilia. It’s a history full of a richness and culture that is to be valued and appreciated. I feel so lucky to be a part of a program driven by so much passion for life. Whether it be past or present life, it’s all relative and deeply special to those here who give their whole hearts to this island and it’s culture. There is a real and significant protection of value to culture and history here that is something not to be ignored. To me this is an exceptional view of life and the beauty that surrounds the world we are so lucky to live in and experience, and expresses a deep importance to heritage.In many ways I feel that the importance to heritage and roots for many has been lost. We live in a fast paced world, where time flies by due to obligations and responsibilities, and leaves little time to create real and important connections not only with family, but with friends and even strangers. Some of the most influential conversations and experiences I have had as of late have come from the most unexpected places. These are the ideas we should understand, appreciate and accept as the future. This is what we need more of to lead balanced and happy lives. This is what it means to live with purpose. With that… Ad un’altra bella giornata.
This is one of the Sicilian breads we made with a sourdough starter. It’s much different than our sourdough at home in a way thats difficult to explain. The texture when finished is a heartier bread in general with a thicker crust and a soft chewy center. The flavor is much more earthy that our sourdough, and is typically topped with sesame seeds.