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DAYS

STAY SALTY ...... means column

Kaori Sakurada Column

Surrounded by Sicilian Air

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Kaori Sakurada
Coordinator / Travel Agent / Journalist

Born in Tokyo and currently lives in Sicily, Italy.
Former international flight attendant for Japan Airlines Co.
I have been traveling around the world since my twenties due to my job, and I settled down in my favorite country, Italy.
In Sicily, where not only Japanese common sense but also Italian common sense does not prevail, she has been working as a coordinator for TV and magazines and as a travel agent. In Sicily, where not only Japanese common sense but also Italian common sense does not prevail, she works as a coordinator for TV and magazines, a travel agent, and a journalist.
He is an expert on Sicilian cuisine and its history.

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11.7.2022

DAYS/ Kaori Sakurada Column

Surrounded by Sicilian Air

Mozzarella from Sicily

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The other day a friend of mine said, "I went to a cheese shop and found real mozzarella from Sicily on sale.

I didn't buy it, but I didn't know such a thing existed.

Of course, mozzarella is sold everywhere in Italy, but "real" mozzarella is a different story.

In order to be "real," mozzarella has to be made from buffalo's milk, and its origin is in the Campania region, the capital of which is Naples.

Therefore, what is usually sold in supermarkets and retail stores is an imported product made in that region.

Of course, there are products made from ordinary milk, which are also delicious, but when it comes to eating it as it is, buffalo milk is the winner, regardless of whether it is used for cooking or not.

Milk is produced all over Sicily.

 

However, when I heard that there is milk produced in Sicily, the first question that came to my mind was, "Are there buffaloes in Sicily? And where is it?

And where are they?

Sicily is an island slightly larger than Shikoku Island, so I wondered which part of the country they were talking about.

 

I immediately searched, and to my surprise, it was only a 30-minute drive from my house!

There are buffaloes there?

We had no choice but to go there.

 

As soon as we got off the highway and entered a side road, we were suddenly in the countryside, and the road was not paved.

After looking at the trusty Google Maps as we proceeded, it was easy to get there.

As we pulled into the parking space, we were greeted by goats, donkeys, and chickens.

 

The cheese store itself was very simple, and my partner and I opened the door to say, "Sorry to bother you.

The owner answered the door and told us that he was the second owner.

I wondered how long this cheese shop had been in existence.

I was surprised to learn that it has been open for 25 years.

They have been making mozzarella for that long, and yet they were not well known....

I asked a rude question like, "Does real mozzarella mean there are buffaloes? I asked a rude question, "There are 100 buffaloes out back, why don't you go and see? I was told, "There are 100 buffaloes in the back.

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Yah, they were really there, the water buffaloes.

When I approached the fence, they were so curious that they came close to me from the other side.

Their dull eyes were so cute.

I watched them for a while.

I heard that there is a river flowing nearby, and they sometimes take the buffaloes there.

I thought to myself, "Of course, they are water buffaloes, so they need water.

 

We arrived around 10:00 a.m. and were able to purchase "real mozzarella," made from milk that had been squeezed first thing in the morning.

The price was 14€ per 1Kg, which is about 2000 yen in today's terms.

 

There is a village near here with good bread, so we stopped there and took a rest at the only bar in the area.

After that, we bought some bread and went home.

Let's eat it for lunch.

Freshly made mozzarella is best tasted as it is.

I tasted a slice first, then mixed it with tomatoes, onions, anchovies, and olive oil to make a panino.

It could be said to be a classic Sicilian panino.

 

From the time I left home to the time I got home, it took a little over two hours, including the time to take a break.

It was a day that made me feel virtuous to be able to enjoy something so simple, easy, and affordable, and I felt that it was great to be able to find something enjoyable around me.

And I felt that it is the best way to find fun and enjoyment close at hand.

At least, that's what I think.

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10.7.2022

DAYS/ Kaori Sakurada Column

Surrounded by Sicilian Air

Are Italians loose with time?

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signs of autumn

Although the sun is still shining strongly, I can feel a hint of autumn in the Palermo area.

Thinking back, this summer was hot and long.

No, in terms of temperature, last year was hotter.

There were days when the temperature rose to 47 degrees Celsius around where I live, and a whopping 52 degrees Celsius was recorded near Siracusa, on the east side of the island.

But summer started late last year.

It was still soggy and cool in June.

This year, on the other hand, the temperature already reached 30°C in late May and remained above 35°C until just a few days ago.

Life without an air conditioner is quite severe.

 

Looking back on this summer, I really didn't see many people.

Well, many people go on long vacations, and there are fewer dinners with friends in the summer, but I still didn't really go out.

Part of it was because I had to participate in an "online event" scheduled for late August, and I had to spend a lot of time covering the event, videotaping, and editing, which I am not used to doing. I guess I am getting old, huh?

 

Now that the vacation is over, people have returned to the towns that had been deserted all summer, and life is back to normal.

Traffic jams have also returned. And life is back to going out with friends.

 

Meeting up with friends for the first time in a while, I was struck by the Sicilian's concept of time.

They are very out of the ordinary.

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What is the Italian conception of time?

A long time ago, I was living in Florence, in the central part of Italy.

I had heard many things about Italians being loose with time, but I remember being surprised to find that they were actually quite different.

I was surprised to find out that the Italians were punctual.

I thought, "Wow, Italians are different from what people say.

Where did this bad rumor come from? I wondered.

Well, the train delays are still famous.

 

A few years later, however, when I started living in Sicily, I was again surprised to discover that the trains were not punctual.

The start of an opera or concert is sometimes more than 10 minutes late.

The start of an event is also usually delayed because "people haven't gathered yet.

In the case of individuals, when meeting someone, they say, "Well, I'll be there at 6:00 or 6:30. What's that?

To me, and to many of you, 6:00 is 6:00 and 6:30 is 6:30, right?

This way of making appointments, it has been that way since cell phones were not widely available.

Perhaps because I was raised by a father who took punctuality for granted, I am very precise. It is not uncommon for me to be late for a meeting.

Making people wait would be stressful for me.

So I would go to the meeting place at 6:00 a.m., and we would all meet there after 7:00 a.m., which was very tiring.

When meeting a large group of people, they have an idea that I would never have thought of: "It's okay if I'm late because everyone else is chatting.

They don't seem to feel sorry for making everyone else wait (laughs).

 

(Laughs) Now that everyone has a smartphone, this sense of "aboutness" has been pushed to the forefront.

Even if you are late, you can still get in touch with them, and even if you can't see them, you can still get in touch with them....

It is true that cell phones are convenient, but Sicilians are becoming more and more loose with time.

 

So, every autumn when I start going out with my friends, I am reminded of their loose schedule.

To their credit, there are some who come properly.

 

There are many "international married couples" around me, Sicilian men married to Poles, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Bulgarians, etc., and they are all punctual.

And it is interesting to hear the foreign women who are wives say, "My husband is late getting ready, and I was so nervous that he might be late for the meeting that I spanked him.

It's the same in my family.

 

They say, "When in Rome...," and that is true.

But I will continue to go to the restaurant on time and spend my time waiting in vain.

This is part of Sicily, I tell myself, so don't get frustrated every time.

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7.11.2022

DAYS/ Kaori Sakurada Column

Surrounded by Sicilian Air

A little air change.

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Every month we bring you a report from Sicily, but this month we are going a bit further afield and coming to you from France.

About a month ago, I received a call from the "Porsche Club de France," a club I have known for a long time.

They said they would invite me to a Porsche event in Le Mans.

However, there were only about 10 days before the event, and I had to make a quick decision to get an air ticket and a hotel room. I thought about it for about three hours with my partner.

My partner and I thought about it for about three hours, and then we decided to go.

 

Of course, Paris in June is full of hotels everywhere, and Le Mans during the event is even more difficult.

After staring at the computer for several hours, we finally secured a room. Whew.

I remember our last trip to France before Corona.

We go to Paris every February, and in 2020, we were able to go to Mont-Saint-Michel, which we had longed for.

And then Corona as soon as we got home.

It was our first trip since then, and our first airport since then, which means flying.

I was excited.

 

I think Paris is beautiful any time of the year, but this time of year is the best.

It's light until 10 p.m. and the sun is completely different from winter.

All of Europe is lovely in the summer, though.

And after not having left Sicily for over two years, a lot of things jumped out at me.

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Differences between Italians and French

 

We arrived in Paris on a morning flight and checked into our hotel just around lunch time.

We went out to eat lunch first and found a café that looked good, so we sat down there.

The first thing I noticed was how small the tables are in French restaurants.

It is interesting that all the tables are small round tables.

When you order, you are offered free water in a carafe, maybe tap water?

Even though the restaurant is nearly full, the voices of the people around us are quiet.

The tone of voice is very different from Sicilians, because if you were in Sicily, you would think it was too loud wherever you go.

As I look around, I also notice that the Parisian women, who give the impression of being classy and elegant, are quite lax.

They put their handbags on the floor of the terrace without hesitation, which is something Italians do not do.

Even cloth bags are placed on the floor.

Perhaps it was because we were seated outside, but there were quite a few people smoking cigarettes.

On another night when it was raining heavily, I was surprised to find that the tables under the eaves of the café were occupied.

Even though there was a "hisashi" (a bamboo fence), the ground was flooded with water, and depending on the direction of the wind, the rain was also splashing on my body.

Italians would not sit outside on a day like this.

Many people sit on the terrace even though the street in front of them is under construction and they are covered in dust.

And French people "sit on the floor.

Whether in a museum, along the Seine, or in an ordinary square, they sit on the ground.

This is also something Italians never do.

Of course, they sit on the grass in the park, but not on the ground.

I knew these things before, but these are some of the things that caught my attention again.

And I thought, "I've changed the air.

Seeing and feeling things that are different from what you normally see is stimulating in itself.

Even if it is something we already know, we often forget that it even exists.

 

I believe that "awareness" is very important in our daily lives.

There is a big difference between not noticing and not noticing, including small changes in one's physical condition.

However, at the same time, there is "habituation," and I feel that the more we become accustomed to things, the less effort we make and the duller our senses become.

The things I recognized again in France this time are not really important, but I feel as if fresh air has entered my mind and heart.

I arrived home thinking that I would like to look for this change of air in my daily life as well.

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5.5.2022

DAYS/ Kaori Sakurada Column

Surrounded by Sicilian Air

Let's Walk in the Market

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I like to walk through markets.

Even when I travel to different countries and different cities, I try to visit them as much as possible.

It's not so much that I say "I do," but rather "I want to, I want to go.

The way of being and the expression varies from country to country and from place to place, and I can see many things when I observe them (I think).

In the markets in France and Germany, the aisles were wide and easy to walk through.

Even a mother pushing a baby buggy can easily walk along the aisles.

I felt like I could shop at a leisurely pace.

The market I visited in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, had a more upscale image.

The goods on sale and the way they were displayed were different from my image of a market, and the atmosphere was like that of an expensive delicatessen.

On the other hand, what are the markets in Sicily like?

Not only in Palermo, where I live, but also in other large cities in Sicily, the markets are usually quite chaotic.

Baby baby carriages?  Outrageous!  The streets are not that wide.

You can force your way through, but it is extremely difficult to walk through that crowd while pushing a baby carriage.

And scooters go through that crowded narrow street without a care in the world....

Even if you don't mean to, your bag might get caught on a piece of clothing, so you can't be too careful in the Sicilian market.

Of course, unfortunately, there is no shortage of pickpockets with bad intentions, so walk around with your valuables securely in your arms.

 

The market in Palermo is not close to my house, so I don't go there often.

That is why I am always excited when I go there.

First of all, I am struck by the colors, the noise, and the smells.

Yes, Palermo's market is very colorful.

From vegetables and fruits that can be found anywhere in the city, to things that cannot be found anywhere else, to things that I can never imagine how in the world I would eat, just looking at them is enough to activate my brain.

That's why I can't sit idly by at the market.

How many people know that the tomato, which is now a typical Italian dish, was not actually brought to Italy until the 17th century?

Moreover, at first it was thought to be a toxic plant and was used for ornamental purposes.

Knowing this, the question then becomes, what was Italian food like before that? The question arises, "What was Italian food like before that?

Right?

It's a great way to stimulate the brain, isn't it?

However, not everyone is a history buff.

It is not necessarily a place where you have to study before going.

Just by looking at the way the items are displayed, I think you can get a sense of the local people's temperament.

Are they meticulous or rough (like in Sicily)?

You can see the local way of life.

Tuna season is about to arrive in Sicily, and the way the tuna is boldly sliced into round slices, starting from the tail, would make a Japanese cook in Japan wince.

A dismemberment show?

There is no such thing.

The head is almost completely discarded.

Cheese is no different.

Cheese shops in French markets look like they are selling jewelry. The way they handle them is different from Sicily.

They are much more polite.

Cheese shops in Sicily also use big knives to cut and sell their cheeses.

You can feel the difference in culture just by looking at this.

Isn't it fun?

If you can't even bring yourself to think about it, don't worry, there are other ways to enjoy yourself.

In recent years, in order to encourage tourists to spend money, the number of simple eateries in the market has increased.

The styles vary from standing food stalls to places where you can sit down and have your food served to you.

The dishes lined up in a row make me want to eat even though I live in Sicily.

Sicilian cuisine is rich in appetizers, and if you order a variety of appetizers and sip a glass of wine, you will surely forget your worries and be filled with happiness.

 

People and ingredients mix and intertwine in the frying pan that is the market.

It is just like pasta.

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4.5.2022

DAYS/ Kaori Sakurada Column

Surrounded by Sicilian Air

From now on I have to think for myself.

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My name is Kaori Sakurada and I live in Sicily.

More than a month has passed since the war between Russia and Ukraine started, and as I have both Russian and Ukrainian friends, I feel very sad.

It may be a country far away from Japan, but it is also close to Europe.

It's kind of a dark story all of a sudden, isn't it?

With the constant news of war day after day, on the contrary, the topic of Corona has been decreasing rapidly.

Life in Sicily has almost returned to normal, and the number of travelers from EU countries and Amelia is increasing.

Currently, you cannot enter restaurants or museums without a "Green Passport," a three-dose vaccination, but this requirement will be removed in April, as will the requirement to wear masks indoors.

And from May, life will be completely normal.

I wonder if it will be OK? Many people are thinking, "What is this?" but while saying so, the Sicilian people are already full of energy to play.

In the midst of all this, I remembered two years ago, right after the first lockdown, which lasted more than two months, was lifted.

My partner said, "Paolo called me.

Who is Paolo? Which Paolo?" And me.

It is complicated because there are many people with the same name.

You've met my high school classmate, right?" Yes, we have met, once, a few years ago at a lunch with about 40 people.

For some reason he friended me on FB at that time, and we are friends in case you were wondering.

I never commented or liked it.

This Mr. Paolo has invited me to go to an agriturismo a little over 100Km away from Palermo on the first weekend of next month. He said, "I told him I would get back to you after discussing it with you." When I asked him about it, he said it would be a three-day, two-night weekend.

Moreover, he said, 10 groups of 20 people would go. 

The moment I heard this, I thought, "Are you nuts?" I thought, "I'm not going to be able to do that.

We hadn't even had coffee at the bar yet, and of course we hadn't been to a restaurant.

We hadn't even met our good friends.

And yet, a weekend getaway with 20 people? It would be impossible.

Even though there are no longer any restrictions, wearing a mask is still mandatory.

Gloves are also required when entering supermarkets and stores.

And it is also obligatory to maintain a social distance of 1 meter.

Traveling in such a situation? 

And almost all of them with people they don't know? 

The agriturismo was run by a friend of Paolo's, and of course it was closed during the period of self-restraint because there were no customers.

It reopened with the easing of restrictions, and he wanted to bring his friends to stay there to support them. 

I think that's a wonderful feeling and it's good that they want to help.

But I just can't bring myself to go stay in a strange place with 20 people I don't know, not yet. 

If I want to go out, I'll go with good friends first.

There are several people I would like to meet.

And if I eat out, it will be at a restaurant I know.

I think so, and I decline the invitation.

Just because there are no more government regulations doesn't mean that Corona itself is gone.

I've always been able to live my life without feeling more fear or nervousness than I should have, because I believed I was doing what I had to do.

But you can't measure how other people are living their lives.

Again, I am becoming more and more naive, and now that government regulations are disappearing more and more, I have to think for myself and decide what I am going to do.

Everyone wants to have fun, and when invited to join a large number of people, many people think that since everyone else is doing it, it must be OK and that it will be all right.

But I don't think so.

Even though the restrictions have been lifted, I don't think it is OK to do whatever you want.

To use a simple example, there is a law that says "minors are not allowed to drink alcohol," and everyone obeys it.

But just because you turn 20 doesn't mean you can drink as much as you want, right? 

You should not drink so much that you get drunk and embarrass yourself or almost die from acute alcohol poisoning.

That's the point: "You can drink, but you have to control yourself.

I believe the same thing applies to this situation.

The restrictions will be gone, so you'll have to use your head to figure out where this is going.

As you can see from this teaser from two years ago, it's normal life - and I think there will be people who will go ballistic.

What do you think is going to happen in the future?

At least I know that no matter what people around me do or say, I will only think for myself and only do what makes sense to me.

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3.6.2022

DAYS/ Kaori Sakurada Column

Surrounded by Sicilian Air

Signs of Spring and the Cheerfulness of the Sicilian People

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As of this writing in February, I hear that Japan is still experiencing cold weather, but here we are seeing the first signs of spring.

It will not become spring as it is, but the sun is extending and we can enjoy pleasant sunshine.

When that happens, Sicilians are eager to get out and go.

They are very simple and easy to understand.

Many Sicilians, especially women, are naturally sensitive to the cold, but when the weather turns warm and sunny, they can't seem to stay still.

They are increasingly asking us to go out for lunch or for a walk.

Lunch is, of course, outdoors, and yes, it is the time of year when restaurants are adding more and more terrace seats as the weather permits.

However, if the wind blows a little, you may suddenly feel chilly, and you may have to put on a coat to have a meal.

I would prefer to go indoors where it is warmer, but it is difficult for me to say no when I am surrounded by them, because I would definitely lose the majority vote (laughs).

It's funny how people's faces light up when they are simply basking in the sunshine, and their laughter grows louder.

It somehow makes them feel festive, doesn't it?

I tend to take a step back and watch, but when I am surrounded by a circle of happy people, the mood is contagious.

Yes, this is one of the characteristics of Sicilians.

What happens when this is reversed is that the probability of the electrician who was supposed to come on a slightly rainy day not showing up increases (and even if it is sunny, he may be stood up), and when you meet with friends, the conversation often starts with complaints such as "It's cold, the weather is bad.

It is not unusual for people to feel more relaxed when the weather is nice and comfortable, but Sicilians have a very clear idea of what is going on, which is interesting.

I wonder if there is any other race of people whose moods are so immediately affected by the weather.

They have a lot of emotional ups and downs, so they get involved in both good and bad ways.

And while it can be exhausting, when you look down on them, you often feel as if you are watching a play or a scene in a movie.

I am impressed by their straightforwardness.

 

Since the weather changes from the end of winter to spring, I have many opportunities to see the Sicilian people in action, which I secretly enjoy.

This kind of fun is even more interesting because they don't seem to be aware of it at all.

This is the moment when I rediscover what a lovable Sicilian I am.

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2.5.2022

DAYS/ Kaori Sakurada Column

Surrounded by Sicilian Air

I hope that the Sicilian wind I feel will reach you.

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Hi, I'm Kaori Sakurada and I live in Sicily, Italy.

Where is Sicily?

When Japanese children learn the map of the world and Europe, I believe Italy is the first place they learn.

It's easy to tell them apart because it's known as "the country in the shape of a boot.

And the pebble kicked by the toe of the boot is "Sicily".

Even though it is a pebble, it is the largest of the 20 Italian provinces, the largest island in the Mediterranean, and has a long history of being under the control of various peoples since BC.

It has a long history of being ruled by various peoples since B.C. Rumor has it that the island of Sicily was kissed by a god, the sun, or some other incredibly large being, so to put it simply, it is very blessed.

 

The famous Greek myth of the Odyssey is said to have wandered around Sicily for ten years before returning home, did you know that?

When I think about it, I wonder if it means that the Greek gods have been watching us for a tremendous amount of time. That's what I thought.

In fact, there are many places in Greek mythology where Sicily is set and passed down.

Part of the island was also a Greek colony, which is probably part of the reason.

 

Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs.................... Of course, being invaded by other peoples means that there are wars, but after overcoming these wars, Sicily has become the country it is today.

 

I live in the western part of the country, in Palermo, the capital of the province.

Where Arab and Spanish influences are still strong, and Greek influences are not seen at all.

Yes, this island, slightly larger than Shikoku, has different scents and different air depending on where you are.

To put it more precisely, the temperament is also different.

I have been living in such a place for 20 years now.

At first, I was a bit confused because of all the differences from Florence, where I lived before that, but I guess I'm used to it now, right? Just when you think you've gotten used to it, you run into something surprising.

It's like a box of surprises, sometimes amazing gems pop up, and usually "Oh no, what am I going to do" things pop up.

Yes, Sicily is a place to be reckoned with.

 

You have to keep "Italy" and "Sicily" separate.

When you arrive at your destination, you may think you are all set for your trip, but there are no rooms or windows in your planned accommodation.

The long-distance bus doesn't show up at the scheduled time, or the museum you've reserved is closed.

Many things can happen (laughs).

It's no laughing matter when you are traveling.

Even so, what is the reason why most of the people who have visited the museum once say they want to come back?

It must be because it has such a mysterious charm, after all, it is kissed by God or the sun.

 

The general image of Sicily is of the coast and the sea, but the inland areas with their wheat fields are also wonderful.

Sicily is also famous for its citrus fruits, including the famous blood orange.

Sicily is a fusion of cultures, food, and history.

 

I would like to keep this column as subjective as possible.

In many cases, Sicilians themselves do not feel the influence of other ethnic groups that they have been involved with in the past.

Today's Sicilians, of course, are young people who run to McDonald's, like anime, wear brand-name jeans, and play with their phones.

However, I definitely feel the history in the Sicilian breeze that passes through the alleys when I am walking.

 

I hope that wind will reach you...

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