Country Life UK|July 08, 2020
I WAS once told the tale of an old Sicilian Mafia don. We were wandering through the cathedral of Monreale, a few miles above Palermo, with Riccardo, a charming and well-connected local. As we glided down that cool nave, he was holding forth on this exquisite juxtaposition of Norman heft and Byzantine soul. But it was nearing noon and my thoughts, as ever, were turning to glories of a more edible variety.
The tour ended and, as we walked outside, gazing over the great city, he suddenly stopped dead. ‘I remember one spring 30 years back,’ he declared, his eyes made owlish by thick glasses. ‘I was eating with the big Mafia boss, the capo, out in the countryside near here.’ He gestured grandly. ‘We had some good local bread, fresh broad beans, pecorino and it was a perfect spring day.’
He paused, lost in delectable reverie. ‘The capo ate the beans then the cheese then took a long draught of cool local wine, straight from the clay jar. He was a big man, and powerful in every way, and he looked at me as he wiped away the wine. “I could happily die now, but there’s not even anyone to kill me.”’ Ah, the brute power of simplicity.
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July 08, 2020