Working in a restaurant is really hard. Not that I worked much, just chopped a lot (watched by 3 hulking Sicilian boys) and watched and tried a sample of everything. But what struck me was how repetitive it all is. That and the heat. 

So having chopped 6 beautiful aubergines and 5 kgs of tomatoes in the morning, they get to do it all again in the afternoon – often in 40 degree heat.

The chopping was for the tomato sauce (for which recipes obviously vary massively) and for the caponata – a typical Sicilian recipe. 

Recipe for pomodoro sauce (lots)

  • Lots of olive oil
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 2 kg tomatoes
  • Lots of basil
  • 2 medium onions
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil and sugar

1. Squash the garlic and put in a good cover of oil. When it starts to get hot and you can smell it, remove the cloves.

2. Put peeled and chopped onions in (half rings is fine).

3. Fry off until they start to soften then put in the tomatoes which have had the head chopped off and been quartered.

4. Keep the heat as low as possible . Add lots of basil leaves, salt and pepper.

5. Put the lid on and leave for an hour and a half, every now and then picking up the lid and wafting the smell to your nose saying mmmm. Add sugar – around a fistful for a big pan like this.

6. More salt and pepper then ideally pass through a tomato passata maker but if not a hand held blender will do.

This sauce is not only used for pasta but a ladle full goes into everything – pepperonata, caponata…

  As we started to chop the power went off all over Ortigia. The other restaurants all stopped work and waved their arms a lot but I suggested we could still cook as there was gas. We had a lot of fun laughing and joking around in my bad Italian and their bad English. Of course they all want to come to England and are apparently all going to live in my loft whilst they find work.. I hadn’t appreciated how bad the economic situation in Italy is of course and they see London as a place for jobs. 

It was so much fun .



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