By Rosario Mariani, http://www.europebychoice.com
Pasta alla Norma
In Sicily, many restaurants serve Pasta alla “Norma.”
Catania’s own Vincenzo Bellini (1801 -1835), who was the quintessential composer of the Italian Bel Canto, composed the opera “Norma” which premiered with great success at Milan’s La Scala.
The story goes that in Catania, after Bellini’s friends saw the opera, they were so impressed that they started comparing anything great to their friend’s opera. If something was excellent it was said to be “una vera Norma” (“a real Norma”) Subsequently, friends began to enjoy a great pasta dishes made with melanzana (eggplant) fried and cut in cubes, tomato sauce, basil and the salted ricotta shaved over the top. This dish was so sublime that it was una vera “Norma” Siciliana. Hence pasta alla Norma.
When in Sicily next or at your local restaurant enjoy this simple but tasty dish and give homage to Vincenzo Bellini. Don’t forget to sip down some local Duca di Salaparuta wine. They go great together!
“Losing Face” & “Straight Laced”—
In the late 1700’s, personal hygiene left much room for improvement. As a result, many women and men had developed acne scars by adulthood. The women would spread bee’s wax over their facial skin to smooth out their complexions.
When they were speaking to each other, if a woman began to stare at another woman’s face she was told “mind your own bee’s wax.” Should the woman smile, the wax would crack, hence the term “crack a smile.” Also, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt and therefore the expression “losing face.” Ladies wore corsets that laced up in the front. A tightly tied lace was worn by a proper and dignified lady as in “straight laced.”
Rosario Mariani is the owner/CEO of Europe By Choice, which promotes travel to Italy and other select European countries. He has more than 40 years of experience in the travel industry, previously serving as Director of Italy Product for Italiatour and Club ABC Tours, and also in other positions with EuroFly, Alitalia and Air France.