|Ziggy and I were going straight on up to Rome, but decided to stop off in Palermo, Sicily instead for little visit with my relatives. We got off the plane and took a cab to the edge of this hill. The cab driver told us we could walk the rest of the way, or, take a cart pulled by a donkey. We opted for the cart. On the way up the hill, Ziggy wanted me to get out and take a pic of her on the donkey. So I did.
When we arrived in Montelepre, Sicily just outside Palermo high up on a hill, we paid the driver of the Sicilian Donkey Cart and started looking for my families home. I asked a few people and they just stared at me like I was a not welcome. You see, if you noticed, Ziggy insists on wearing this silly hat I gave her for her birthday. Everywhere we go, people just look and stare. But, she's happy so what the heck.
Finally, I stopped off at this church and asked this priest if he knew of the Licare family and he pointed to a house just a few feet away from the church. What luck.
I knocked at the door and an elderly lady answered. I told her who I was and she looked down at Ziggy with her hat and because she couldn't understand me, she yelled for someone else to come to the door. Before I could explain, here comes this cat strutting up tossing his cape over his shoulder.
Well, did he ever get Ziggys' attention!
He introduced himself as Giorgio Giuseppi Fernando Vazuela. He took Ziggy by the paw and ran off with her. I was beside myself. I ran after them as long as I could but stopped because I was out of breath. I turned around and walked the three feet back to the front door. I don't run much.
Anyway, just then, a man came up to the door and asked who I was. Finally! Someone who speeky English! I told him who I was, who my Grandparents were and we hugged. He told me I was his cousin and took me inside. He called all the family up on the phone and they all came to meet me and Ziggy.
They made a pizza and we all sat around and I told them of their family in the states. It was the best pizza I ever had! The Sicilians call it 'sfincione'. It differs from the pizza delivered in familiar flat boxes. This pizza dough is allowed to rise a little before being put in the oven, and has ingredients pressed into it to be discovered within, not on top of the dough. Here's the recipe.
Pizza a la Palermitana
(Sicilian Pizza Dough)
Let's start with the dough.
Sicilian Pizza Dough
Yield: One large pizza
1 1/2 cups water (105° F to 115° F)
2 packages dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
4 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
Coat a large bowl with teaspoon of olive oil and set aside.
Stir first three ingredients together and let sit for 10 minutes, until nice and foamy.
Place three cups of flour in large bowl and mix in salt.
Place one cup of flour on work surface.
Mix pour olive oil into yeast mixture and then pour yeast mixture into bowl with flour.
Stir until as combined as possible.
Turn out onto floured surface.
With well floured hands, knead dough to work in the cup of flour on the board.
Continue kneading until nice, smooth dough-ball is formed.
Place in oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel and let sit for 30 minutes.
Dough should double (at least).
Now, the topping.
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cups onion, roughly chopped
1 prepared bread dough
6 anchovy fillets, cut in small pieces
1/3 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
15 black olives, pitted and halved
1 1/2 cups light tomato sauce
1 cup toasted bread crumbs
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
Heat oil in skillet. Add onion and sauté until golden over medium heat.
Oil a cookie sheet or large pizza pan. Spread dough in an even layer in the pan, pushing gently into shape.
Push pieces of anchovy, mozzarella and olive as deep into dough as they will go.
Spread onions in one even layer over dough. Pour tomato sauce over onions. Top with layer of bread crumbs. Sprinkle with oregano.
Allow pizza to sit, covered, for two hours. It will rise to be breadier than the average pizza.
Preheat oven to 425° F.
Bake for 25 - 30 minutes on the middle rack of oven. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon olive oil over pizza before serving.
All during the dinner, talk, and laughs, my mind was preoccupied on where Ziggy was off too and if she was alright. They assured me that they would return soon. They said Giorgio Giuseppi Fernando Vazuela was a gigolo cat and Ziggy would have a real good time. When I explained what we do to cats in the States to keep them from having more cats, a hush came over the room.
They all gave me a "what for?" look. I tried to explain that I had to fix Ziggy when she was little. It's to control the pet population because there was so many homeless cats and dogs. They understood and we talked and laughed some more.
All of a sudden, Ziggy and Giorgio Giuseppi Fernando Vazuela pranced through the door. She was singing and happy like I've never seen her before. I couldn't believe it. I asked her what happened. I said, "Ziggy, don't cha know that there's just certain things you can't do anymore because of you know what?" And she meowed to me, "Hey, I ain't no spring chicken and I ain't got nuttin that works. But hey, we sure had a good time talkin about it!"
We all gave each other hugs and said our ciaos and me and Ziggy headed out the door, down the hill to a waiting cab and back to the airport. All the way to the airport, Ziggy was silent but had a big grin on her face. All I said was why don't you take that silly lookin hat off!
We arrive in Rome and Ziggy gets attacked by some punk pigeons. Tune in tomorrow because they didn't know who they were messin with!