Ben (eldest son) arrived to stay with us on Christmas Eve. He flew Alitalia from Heathrow with very little fuss or delay. He came Club Class and passed on a useful tip. Apparently, seat prices are based on demand level. At holiday times such as Christmas Evev, there are many wanting Economy Class but few wanting Business Class. Net result, his Club Class ticket was less than Economy!
Ben joined Julyan in the “Spare Room” – after a hasty bit of clearing up!
We decided to have Christmas Lunch in the campsite restaurant. Now this is not a question of allowing the Sicillians to serve a suitable meal and turning up to eat it. This was a guided menu by the three Brits on site. After all, we know how it should be done, don’t we?
We got the ball rolling by putting the idea to the management, who took it up with enthusiasm. Guiseppe immediately offered a menu.
At this point, our neighbour, June, took on the correction of the proposed menu. She is a Brit married these many years to a Swedish farmer living in Gotland. June explained the essential core must be stuffed Turkey and that Christmas Pudding is essential.
The turkey was no problem and Guiseppe duly ordered one. Stuffing was not in the Sicilian repetoire so June volunteered to make it and apply it to the bird. This was fine until the bird arrived on Christmas Eve. Guiseppe had ordered a 10Kg bird. What was delivered was a 16Kg bird – boneless! This presented June with the problem of how to stuff a boneless turkey and Guiseppe with severe doubts about it fitting in his oven. However, on the day, June went and managed to sew the bird back together around the stuffing and the thing was negotiated into Guiseppe’s humidifying oven.
June had a 1Kg Christmas pudding and we persuaded Ben to bring another with him. Guiseppe was still insisting that the final course would be Cassata. Patrick took on the task of making the Brandy Butter.
Liz ordered crackers from Lakeland in the UK which duly arrived. She had half with the balloons that you make funny animals out of, and half with musical whistles that each diner blows on cue to make a tune (musical score supplied). It appears that June had made two annual attempts to bring crackers to Italy but they had always been confiscated as explosive devices so she was delighted that Liz had found the way.
Guiseppe brought his entire family along including his very elderley parents-in-law and three delightful daughters.
There were about 10 happy campers to make up the party.
We were very impressed with the tolerance as assorted Brits wandered in and out of their kitchen demanding working space, utensils and attention. It seemed just fine with all concerned.
The meal started with 3 types of vegetables cooked in different ways, followed by a sort of giant Ravioli stuffed with Ricotta and Spinach. The turkey was then brought in cut in enormous 1cm slices, roast potatoes, stuffing and a sort of ham roll which most of us were too full to eat. This was then folloed by the Christmas Pudding which Patrick made several attempts to get to the table still flaming. Guiseppe made it work by following him into the restaurant with an enormous spoon of hot brandy which he poured and lit on arrival. This process caused considerable amusement amongst the non-Brits but was sampled by almost everyone. Finally came the Cassata. This was delicious creamy sort of cross between a cheesecake and a Panatone.
We left the meal hardly able to walk and spent most of the rest of the day very quietly or sleeping.
Julyan went home on Boxing day and Ben left the day after.
The day Ben left, first Patrick and then Liz went down with extreme colds. These took over a week to recover from. We were extremly grateful for Ben’s Christmas present of full boxed sets of Prime Suspect, Brideshead Revisited, The Office and Porridge. We watched several hours of these day after day whilst we coughed and sniffed. What a wonderfully timed present…
We were aware of the New Year celebrations going on around us. The Sicillians appear to have a love affair with fireworks. For at least two weeks leading up to Christmas, there seemed to be a series of firework parties every night. On New Years Eve the place seemed to explode over a 4 hour period. From our seaside position, we could see them in all directions along the bay. A wonderful sight indeed.