PACHINO, SICILY, ITALY. 2011- (WORK IN PROGRESS). The kitchen is the place of life and death. It is a fact that most accidents, murders and brutal things happen in the kitchen and are committed by our close ones. But that fact is not based on food at all. Maybe it should be? Because most suicides in our modern world today are made with knife and fork and the murderers are all around us in our very own kitchens.
I myself do believe that the habits of food is one of our major gifts to our children and I came to the small town Pachino, on the southern tip of Sicily, to see how they live there. I met Giusy. She was just going to give birth to her first child Noel. Giusy and her husband are tomato farmers of the third generation. Everywhere I went I saw the Serre, the greenhouses where much of the production is happening. For a long time I had heard and read in the news that people, especially the young, had left these old agricultural villages to make their future in the big city. To me Italy has always been kind of a dream country, because of my love for food, and the Italian movies with the circus of people out in the streets sharing big bowls of pasta, and also my own family, with wine on the table, all my sisters speak italian or live or have lived in Italy.
Diet comes from the Greek word diaita (δίαιτα), or way of life. The Mediterranean diet was in November 2010 included in UNESCO´s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Meaning not only the food and eating itself but also the lifestyle of crops, harvesting, fishing, conservation, preparation and skills, knowledge and traditions all the way from the landscape to the table.
A tomato without unnatural ”tricks” is too expensive to sell in the supermarket and the tomato farmer survives by growing lower quality tomatoes, the humble taxidriver Mr. Buonadonna told me. The farmers told me, there are too many people getting payed in between the farmer and the consumer and the system of supporting lowquality is backed by the Italian state. Acclaimed chef Ciccio Sultano in Ragusa Ibla say most farmers have poor marketing skills and should grow the good tomato. Low price comes with a high price, in the long run. But it´s a great way to fill hospitals!
Giusy and her husband say they will provide for their son Noel and they will give him the chance to become the fourth generation of tomato farmer in the family. But he will probably be doing something else living somewhere else.
Could it be that even Italy is killing its UNESCO protected way of life?