Clare arrives today, and I was awake at first light, thinking about getting everything in order to welcome her. I cooked a minestrone soup ready last night, as we'll be late in from the airport. Outside, it's another day of thunder, rain and wind. It's also market day, so I walked early to the other end of town, to see if could buy some more of the exquisite green olives I enjoyed last week. Due to the weather, many stall holders were ate setting up, but the veggie stall I visited last week was well up and running.
I stopped by the tubs of olives set out on the ground, three kinds, plus a tub of pickled peppers, a plastic sack of hazel nuts in their shells, another of chick peas, and another sack probably walnuts, but so big they looked like new potatoes through the translucent material. The little old man with crooked teeth and an impenetrable accent who served me last week was serving an old lady, gallantly helping her to distinguish her centestimi. When he saw me, he looked down at the green olives. "Si - ancora. Ci senti buonissimo" I said, and he nodded agreement. I was touched he'd remembered me from all the people passing through last Wednesday morning. I bought 1,150 grammes of olives, half green, half black for ten euros.
He then started eulogising about the wine and olive oil in his rich Sicilian tones, urging me to take some of the wine. I picked up the red. "Cinque euros" he said, then insisted the white was very good and must be tried. 'E basta' said I. But he ignored me and put a bottle of white in the bag. I guess what he said was: "Try this, and you'll want to pay me for it next week." In my protestant way, I paid another ten euros for 2 litre plastic bottles of red and white wine. 'Confezionato da Musumeci Salvatore, ACI S. Antonio Italia', it said on the label. I wonder if that's him or his family? I crossed my fingers it would be OK, and managed to be firm and say that I didn't need two litres of freshly pressed unfiltered olive oil as well before Christmas but possibly after. In retrospect, maybe I did really, and should have bought some. Oil straight from the farm. What if there's no market on Boxing Day? Anyway, the wine is young, it tastes good for a vino di tavola and I have no regrets about the unforeseen outlay.
By the time I had lugged my purchases home, the heavens were delivering hail as well as rain and thunder. It's not really cold, and conditions change often. In fact, it's like early Spring weather - quite entertaining. Starting early for the airport and stopping over en route in Catania, risking a soaking to look around town for a couple of hours doesn't seem worth it. Better to relax and leave tourism to another finer day?