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Organic Gardening: BLT Construction

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Shot and edited by Janet Lawrence.

Written by Janet Lawrence

September 18, 2013 at 6:41 pm

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Ceramics from Caltagirone

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Ooooooh, if you like Italian ceramics, head to Caltagirone. The small city sits perched atop a hill overlooking green fields, strewn with white craggy rocks. You’d think it’s a sleepy little place, but the colorful splashes of painted ceramic topping churches and residences inject the town with pizazz. Age-old pizazz–over one thousand years ago, the town’s Arab conquerors gave Caltagirone its name, Arabic for Hill of Vases!

In Laboratorio Ceramiche Cucuzza, one of the many ceramic shops in Caltagirone’s historic center, I met Salvo Cucuzza. He’s a third-generation ceramics-maker. He let me take a look in his family’s workshop, where they fire the pots and glaze them. I bought a decanter and a sauce spoon holder!

Like I mentioned, the town’s decked out in glazed ceramics. The Scala di Santa Maria del Monte, a set of nearly 150 stairs in the historic center, is covered in painted tiles, and many houses have installed ceramic pinecones outside of the doors or on the balconies for luck.

But Caltagirone is also worth visiting if you like to walk around the lesser-trodden back streets. There are plenty of normal people, young and old, that live in the town–although the ceramics attract tourists, the locals, happily, haven’t been pushed out.

Check it out:

Written by Janet Lawrence

May 9, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Posted in Photo

Easter: From Start to Finish

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Easter in Italy is a big deal.

The festivities begin 40 days before Easter, or Pasqua, with Carnevale, Italy’s equivalent of Mardi Gras. At Carnevale I learned the following:

1) For children, the main point of the tradition is pummeling other costumed children with confetti and silly string.

2) This being an island, one can only expect so much variation in costume. The most repeated costumes were a stuffed-muscle Spiderman suit and a red-and-black lace can-can girl dress.

3) For the holiday, vendors take to the streets to hawk balloons, toy drums and plastic trumpets. I have witnessed at least six other holidays in the four months I’ve lived here, and the vendors and the toys never change. How can children be expected to goad their parents into buying them these trinkets if it’s the same stuff over and over? Where’s the marketing strategy? Haven’t the street vendors ever heard of the Disney vault?

Forty days later it was Easter. I spent it with Simona Russo’s family. I learned the following:

1) Easter eggs are way more fun in Italy. The tradition calls for unwrapping ostrich egg-sized chocolate eggs from brightly colored cellophane and smashing them with your fist. Then you get to open up the smaller inner-egg to retrieve the surprise inside!

2) Catanese lasagna has, in addition to the layers of cheese, tomato sauce, and pasta, bonus layers of boiled eggs and fried eggplant. Mmmmmm.

3) The meal takes all day. Sure, we took breaks—even naps—and we changed locations several times, but the number of hours between the first course and the last was ten.

Written by Janet Lawrence

May 1, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Posted in Photo, Writing

Janet Evolves into a Good Cook: Part 2

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Spaghetti alle vongole: garlicky clams on a bed of al dente pasta dripping with golden olive oil and peppy bits of fresh parsley.

In a restaurant it costs around 10 in Catania and $20 in NYC.

Given the abundance of cheap, fresh clams in Catania, I decided to do it myself.

Cost: about 5

Written by Janet Lawrence

March 1, 2011 at 9:17 pm

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Janet Evolves into Good Cook: Part One

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Sicily = good food. But you have to make it yourself, and therein lies the rub. I’ve never been much of a cook, but living here has inspired me. Here’s why:

I love NYC, but I didn't enjoy cooking there.

Written by Janet Lawrence

February 27, 2011 at 11:25 pm

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Maurizio the Fishmonger

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I had a hankering for spaghetti alle vongole (with clams), so I hit up the mercato in the center of Catania. I met Maurizio, a fish vendor of 26 years, who let me sample a bit of fresh tuna. Check out the video!

Written by Janet Lawrence

February 27, 2011 at 7:45 pm

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Picking up after Sant’Agata

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In case you were wondering how they remove the wax drippings from the massive candles carted through the city for the Festa di Sant’Agata. A day after festivities ended, sanitation workers were out in full force to de-slippery-ify the city streets. Blow torches, saw dust, and charming witches’ broomsticks.

(Actually, those brooms look like they’re made with sustainably made materials, so, good on ya, Catania!)

Written by Janet Lawrence

February 27, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Posted in Photo