In some ways, a Deeper Look-See was of the sea.
Our new “piccolo programma” was launched on the island of Pantelleria, a small outlying volcanic island off the southwest coast of Sicily. Visiting remote places you haven’t been to in a while is charming. It’s like seeing an old friend. In this case, Pantelleria is quite an old friend. She is wise and wrinkled with ancient dark lava stone walls throughout the island and constant winds blowing in her face. She’s alive with thermal waters and fumaroles that break through the ground from steaming vapors close to the earth’s surface. This strong magnetic energy creates a force that you can feel.
In my work over the last 30 years, I’ve delighted and marveled at how cultures express themselves. A “taste of place” exists, not only in the terroir; the soil and climate that influences the flavor of something. Terroir is not only tangible, it’s intangible. We taste with all of our senses, our intelligence and intuition. It’s a holistic experience. Slowing down helps us to notice this. Curating a period of time to drop into a special place can have a deep healing effect.
A whitewashed dammuso at Le Case del Principe was our home overlooking the dark lava shoreline. The lapping, at times crashing sea was dramatic against the rock, accented by the Punta Spadillo lighthouse in the distance whose light flashed through a crack in the window at night to remind you that it was there. A lighthouse is a significant metaphor for illumination and we were there to be illuminated.
We gathered a dozen lovely travelers anxious to take a deeper look and taste while contemplating where they are in their lives. We walked to a magic lake with a mirror-like appearance called “Specchio di Venere” and hiked the dormant craters. We took our journals and illustrated plants under the direction of painter Heather McReynolds. We tasted wines, delicious local vegetables and even took a deep dive into smelling essences that our friend Ines had made out of the various 500 or so diverse species on the island. Beauty was everywhere as well as a primitive vibe that grabbed our constant attention, grounding us to look, see and feel. A group of strangers bonded. Each had their own experience and shared what they saw. It was simple and yet profound.
This program is designed and hosted in tandem with my friend and colleague, Linda Sarris. It’s an opportunity to explore a place we both love and stretch the boundaries to articulate what we are seeing. Linda brings a sense of connection to the land as she has been spending significant time there over the last ten years. She currently lives in Palermo (and has it wrapped around her pinkie). She has become Siciliana. Her knowledge and connection is constant, not to mention her passion for the people.
Sicilians are a proud breed of islanders. A little bit Phoenician, Carthaginian, Norman, Greek and Arab. My deep love and connection for Sicily has been long and consistent, but I come and go. My connection to Anna Tasca Lanza and Regaleali goes way back to 1998. Linda and I met at Regaleali and connected over our resonance with the food and the land. I was able to bring my experience of the recent past into the present in the same way we work together now. Two wisdoms converged on an island off an island, a deep understanding of something unseen. And yet, working with food and place and people are very visible and nourishing. This is what we invite you into, a deeper look-see of a timeless, relevant place to taste and savor what lay at our fingertips, under our feet, and in our eyes. It is my great joy to work on this program in tandem with Linda; our beloved Cheeky Chef.
This Pantelleria program is a template of sorts for other upcoming “Deeper Look-See” programs in other destinations. Registration is now open for Pantelleria in May 2023; we would love to have you here with us!