Piazza Armeria, May 26, 2010 —IN FACT NOT Piazza Armeria; outside of town in a country hotel not far from the celebrated Villa Romana — celebrated for its mosaics, alas presently in a state of considerable lavorazione in progress, and not that readily appreciated.
No matter. After the incredible noise and dirt and crowds of Catania, and an hour or two on the road, we're back in the country, in a pretty good-sized hotel with only two other paying guests, as far as I can tell. We ate in the hotel restaurant. I hardly looked at the menu: when there are only four guests in a restaurant you don't look at a menu, you ask the waiter what he suggests, and you take his advice. We had:
Antipasto: what we've always called giardiniera, raw vegetables pickled in brine, with a little salami and cheese Lasagna al forno, with bechamel and bolognese Castrato, lamb cutlets grilled and served with a quarter lemon Insalata verde, simply fresh local lettuces (the whole meal was local) dressed with salt, oil, and lemon; and Melanzana, eggplant slow-cooked in oil.
When I was a boy I never had lamb. My father refused to have it in the house. The result was a morbid fascination for it, which is strange: for the most part I don't eat things I didn't eat as a child, but lamb is an exception. I started eating it as soon as I left home, and it's been a favorite ever since.
Cheap Nero d'Avola, and I mean very cheap, and local