“If the bee were to disappear from the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left.”  – Albert Einstein

 

I have always wanted to keep bees, so when I saw a notice in the morning paper about a guided tasting of cheese and Sicilian honey, I was keen to read on.  The guiding was to be done by Carlo Amodeo,  who, according to the notice, is a very special bee keeper, largely responsible for saving the Sicilian black bee (Apis mellifera sicula) from extinction, and now producing highly prized honey using typical Sicilian plants – from orange blossom and mandarin to loquat; red clover and thyme to chestnut.  For me, this was clearly an event not to be missed!

And it proved to be every bit as interesting as the notice had promised.  We had the opportunity to try most of the honeys, learning to match the stronger flavoured honeys, such as chestnut, with mild cheeses and the more delicate honeys, such as orange blossom or loquat, with stronger cheeses.  But it was the story of the Sicilian black bees and Carlo Amodeo’s role in saving them from extinction that really captured my attention.   

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I discovered Emma Dante, quite by chance, while browsing in a bookshop  recently opened in Palazzo Cattolica, one of Palermo’s grand old palaces. I’m not sure what it was that attracted me to the small  book called Interview with Emma Dante.  Maybe because it was an interview I thought the Italian would be relatively easy to follow;  or maybe I just found the size and appearance of the book appealing – it’s an attractively produced little book, just  12 x 16cm, printed on lovely smooth white paper.   Whatever it was, I had soon read enough to realise that Emma Dante was both a formidable talent and an interesting commentator on Palermo: definitely someone I wanted to know more about.   

What interested me most, initially, was her relationship with Palermo.  She is one of the most important figures in contemporary European theatre, her works regularly performed to acclaim – yet here in Palermo, her home city, she is virtually unknown and her works are almost never performed.  Not surprisingly, she is highly critical of the city, but her relationship with it is complex: on the one hand she despairs of Palermo; on the other, she is deeply attached to it.  It is the force behind her work.

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