Fra's parents were visiting from Sicily which means one thing: awesome delicious food eaten over screaming volume crazy Sicilian conversation. Sounds like a perfect party to me.
Of course when we arrived there were mountains of goodies. I expect nothing less when visiting a proper Sicilian household. Fra wanted to make "finger" foods since her table wasn't large enough to accommodate the crowd. What's funny is, she has this big gorgeous house, with a huge living room that is perfect for hors 'doeuvres and cocktails, but guess where all the Sicilians were sitting? At the small table in the eat-in kitchen. They made it work, not a problem. The closer to the food the better.
The Sicilian to non-Sicilian ratio at Paul and Francesca's house was 6.5:2.5. I straddle the fence, putting that 0.5 on either side of the ratio. May explain a few things about me in case you were wondering. But we still somehow spend a large part of the day making fun of Sicilians while we are eating. Aunt Helvi of Finnish descent, tells the most hilarious stories about her Sicilian father-in-law Uncle Jack. Once she picked him up from the airport and he had stowed a pot of food in his luggage that he had taken right off the stove from Sicily and when he got to her house he ordered her to heat it up on her stove for his dinner. Sicilians are notorious homeland security violators when it comes to smuggling food. Aunt Helvi always has us all in tears. Then she took an extreme close-up photo of Rocco and said in her Finnish accent, "You look like you just had a stroke." I almost died laughing.
Of course Fra spent the whole day before working on dough, which she used to make pizza, rosemary focaccia and even this delicious sausage stuffed roll. Just make dough (cause its that simple), roll it out, layer some cooked sausage in it and some cheese, roll it up and bake. Then cut into delicious slices. This was so good.
I was looking forward to her mother Aurora's famous sweet and sour meatballs, which were amazing. I wanted to know the recipe but with Sicilians there are no written down recipes. You just kind of ask and take what you can get. There was a lot of her mother telling me the recipe in Sicilian and Fra translating, going, "how do you say that?" to me. Uh? I don't know. And I am like, Rocco, "what is she saying?" Then Rocco just repeats the word in Sicilian multiple times waving his hands, as if hearing it 10 times in Sicilian will somehow make me understand it in English. At one point Fra's father asked if Rocco was drunk, and Paul said, "No, he just like that." Ha!
From what I understand, you make the meatballs, you know, how you make regular meatballs, then you make a very onion filled tomato sauce, which makes the sauce sweet, then at the end you add vinegar and drop the meatballs in the sauce. Thats all I got out of it. I can swing it I think.
Oh and the sun-dried tomatoes, smuggled of course, stuffed with bread crumbs. This on a nice slice of bread is heaven any day of the week.
There was a gigantic bowl of my favorite: arancini or rice balls. Fra filled them with ham and cheese. They were so wonderfully small, which Fra explained is because her mother's hands are the perfect tiny size to shape rice balls. I wonder if Sicilian women evolved with tiny hands just for this purpose. I know I evolved to be able to consume ridiculous amounts of rice balls for sure. I ate even more than I thought possible.
The food just didn't stop coming. Fra's father put out this lemon he smuggled back from Sicily. Its not a conventionally produced lemon and has a really thick white flesh surrounding the fruit that is edible. He served a platter of them covered in sugar. They were amazing.
And with the rinds they made this sort of candy by dehydrating the rind with sugar and water. So addictive. You could try this with regular lemon rind, but only organic. Soak the rind in water, and keep changing the water. This removes the bitterness. Then you cook the rind in sugar, which dehydrates it and the sugar sticks to the lemon skin. This is the story I got. Don't hold me to it.
For dessert, the Almond Olive Oil Cake I made was specially requested by Paul and Fra who don't have a sweet tooth or like chocolate (?), but love this cake and love to spread nutella on it, which is chocolate. I don't ask, I just feed.
Overall, awesome crazy Sicilian day!