Discoveries of Lipari to Salina
Since we were going to meet for dinner at 8 pm, I headed back early to actually grab a shower – on land! The sailboat harbour of Santa Marina actually features a comfort station with modern shower and washroom facilities. And since I was still squeamish about using the tiny on-board toilet/shower combination room I couldn’t wait to actually jump into a real shower. When you occasionally take yourself out of your regular comfort zone, you realize how treasured simple things like a real warm shower can become. I thoroughly enjoyed my land-based cleansing ritual and got dressed up for dinner.
Dark clouds hang over Santa Marina
Francesco took us to a local restaurant on the main street called “Nni Lausta” (http://www.isolasalina.com/default_eng.htm – Sicilian dialect for “lobster”), a highly renowned local seafood restaurant which is even listed in the Michelin Guide. Our skipper had made arrangements with Fabio, the restaurant’s owner, to produce a real multi-course Sicilian meal for our group. Fabio himself had spent some time in the United States and also owns a restaurant in the north of Italy, obviously an accomplished restaurant entrepreneur.
Our first dinner at Nni Lausta
We settled in and our meals started to arrive. Fabio’s sister, Sabina Giuffré, owner of a local bed and breakfast, also dropped by, and she recognized Lorenzo, who had visited the island about 12 years ago and met Sabina at that time. For Lorenzo, this was a real home-coming, a back-to-his-roots kind of experience, to return to the small island that his paternal grandparents had left in 1910. He had already walked through the whole town of Santa Marina, chatted and connected or reconnected with many of the locals, and despite his limited Italian skills, he was not shy to talk to anyone.
A fishy appetizer
Sabina and Lorenzo commented on the fact that almost everyone in town seemed to be named “Giuffré”, indeed a popular name that seems to date back to Catalan settlers centuries ago. Indeed a website about Sicilian surnames indicates that “Giuffré” is the most popular last name in the town of Santa Marina. It was great to see this man from Boston, a Catholic priest no less, reconnect with his family’s roots and have such a great time.
The first course of our dinner was ready to arrive: each of us received five different types of morsels of fish on an oblong plate which included tuna, mackerel and anchovies. One of the dishes was called “tartan di tonno” which meant it was raw fish. The group loved the appetizer, me not so much because I am not a fish eater in general. Unfortunately the wonderful world of seafood in Sicily is totally lost on me.
But, I said to myself, you are going to try each of these dishes. At least I gave it a shot and I decided to open my mind. So I did try all five varieties of fish and there were two that seemed semi-pleasant to my palate. The rest of the group was rather shocked to find out that I don’t eat fish, but happily obliged and cleaned up the remainder of my appetizer. Nothing will go to waste here!
The “scorfano” after the big feast
The meal continued with two different types of pasta: “battarga di tonno” (with tuna), and “pasta verdure di stagione” (vegetarian), which was a very pleasant dish. The main dish was a big whole fish for the entire group: “scorfano” which I believe translates as “hogfish”. It was a big, mean yet aesthetic looking fish and definitely sufficient to feed an entire group of four people. My main dish was a pasta dish with eggplant which was followed by a lemon ice cream dessert for everyone. A glass of local “malvasia” (malmsey) wine followed and a few of my shipmates also had a grappa for good digestion. A real Sicilian meal definitely consists of many courses, always features wine and fish, and probably a glass of liquor to cap it all off.
Sicilian flower power
After this extensive culinary experience we headed back to the boat and sat up chatting until 2 am. Time to rest up for a new day of adventures….