Are you English?

I was inspired to start this blog with the realisation that after six years of living in Sicily, I still don’t feel particularly Italian. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t embraced the Sicilian way of life.  There are some lifestyle choices that I would find difficult to renounce, 3 o’clock siesta I’m looking at you, yet the more years that pass, the more I treasure England. This realisation came to me halfway through a packet of pickled onion flavoured Monster Munch.   It would be doing England a disservice if I use a chemically-flavoured corn snack as representative of a glorious nation, but in that moment I must admit I’ve never found them so tongue-tinglingly good. (I do miss vinegar.  There is a distinct lack of vehicles (i.e. potatoes and cabbage) for vinegar in the Italian diet.) And then I realised what was stopping me reaching for the grissini.  I don’t want to be Italian.  I love Italy and I love the Italians but I’m English and proud to be so.  The difficulty herein on (and the subject of this blog) lies in trying to find an equilibrium between the two cultures.  A good example is the photo above. This my garden.  After 5 years of living in an apartment in the centre of Palermo, I’m now the proud owner of a ground floor flat with a bit of garden out the back.  Never one to heed the warnings of others I carefully avoided the concrete and cactii favoured by my neighbours and went for the full English.  As you can see, the lawn isn’t bearing up so well in the heat. It’s patchy and brown in places, verdent in others, a metaphor if you like for a life between two very different countries.   A little bit of England under the hot Mediterranean sun. I accept you can’t put vinegar on pasta but I’m not ready yet to embark upon the concrete’n’cactii look if I can keep a little bit of the green green grass of home.

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