Il Talismano Della Felicità by Gina Kleinmartin

When Sicilians dispersed from our country of rocks and sea, we lost, like most migrants, everything. Few children and grandchildren speak more than a few phrases of Italian, no one has a set of ‘fancy clothes’ tucked away in a closet, even Sicilian holidays were moved to match local customs. But in every Sicilian home, it seems, regardless of how few Sicilian ancestors there were or how long ago they left the island, there is one thing that is almost unchanged: the food.

Whether it is called gravy, sauce or ragu, every family serves the meaty red sauce. Every family still remembers and celebrates with pastries and cookies. We cool down with ices and warm up with coffee. The food became the cultural touchstone of the people. Even the one cookbook most families had was called Il Talismano Della Felicità, or the Talisman of Happiness.

So, I set out to make a personal talisman of the greatest Sicilian foods. Using a Kaleidoscopic effect, I featured olives, oranges, garlic, tomatoes, pignoli nuts, eggplant, pasta, and sardines. These are the foods that are the cultural touchstone of Sicilians everywhere, our talisman.