La famille - Comme les branches d'un arbre, nous grandissons tous dans de différentes directions, mais nos racines ne font qu'un. Family - like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions, but our roots are one.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse
I was going to title this post: Family Reunion in Sicily, but that could be misleading--you might assume we have Sicilian roots. While that would be exciting, the fact is, on my father's side of the family we are English (my maiden name is Ingham).
Before joining my Seattle Family in the coastal village of Trabia, my daughter Jackie and I (with the help of speed-reader Mama Jules) did some catching up on our family, thanks to Cousin Laura (my dad's first cousin) who wrote a lively book documenting our family history. From entrepreneurs in the lumber business to artists, musicians and writers (a famous novelist and screenwriter)--and, recently, a therapist and a rug designer--we are, like all families, an eclectic group.
In addition to writing this family treasure, Cousin Laura owned a travel bookstore in Seattle called Marco Polo Travel Resources. The space was designed by family member and Pacific Northwest architect Roland Terry (more about Roland, below).
It was a great chance to spend time with these thoughtful creatives on the singsong island of Sicily--where art and history intersect with the rugged turquoise coastline and the most delicious dish in the world: CAPONATA (Sicily's version of ratatouille? Add sugar, balsamic vinegar, some celery, capers and green olives!)
More than a family reunion, we were here to celebrate Cousin Laura's 80th birthday, which we did the final night -- after a week of visiting Palermo, Erice, and other Sicilian towns. My favorite was Porticello--a small, unassuming fishing village. My cousin Erik (Laura's son, and the rug designer) arranged for all 15 members in our group to eat a traditional Sicilian dinner at a private residence facing the port at sundown.
We didn't actually see the sun go down from our table--located in an inner courtyard, beneath a sky of lemons. Surrounded by citrus trees we dined on antipasti and quickly added a few dishes to our list of favorite foods in the world (that caponata...as well as panella--Sicilian fritters made from chickpea flour. Oh, là là!!)
Around the time the cake was served, we listened to Cousin Bill (Laura's brother) give a touching toast to his sister. Laura's response echoed her brother's sentiments: family is everything!
I leave you with a few pictures (more on Instagram) and some books to check out. Thanks for reading and see you next week!
To the right, my cousin Fred. I only saw Fred once each year, in summertime, when visiting my family in Seattle. Fred and I are the same age and he has followed my blog from the beginning -- always supportive and encouraging of my writing endeavors. Thank you so much Fred! Fred is Bill Ingham's son, see Bill's book just below.
William Ingham: Configuration of Forces - one precious memory from this trip was watching a conversation between Cousin Bill and Jackie. Two generations apart, and from different cultures, these two chatted up a storm over dinner. If you enjoy contemporary art, pick up a copy of this book on William Ingham's Abstract Expressionism
From the comments to this post:
In the 1980's Roland Terry, who was basically retired by then, shared some office space with an architectural firm for which I worked. He was the grand master of Northwest Architecture, his beautiful, distinctive buildings admired to this day. Because of his reputation, I stood in awe of him before even meeting him, expecting some imperious individual to come into our office. I couldn't have been more surprised to meet a warm, pleasant, kind, dear man! It's exciting to learn that he was a relative of yours. I so enjoyed meeting you and Jean-Marc in Seattle several years ago and continue to read and enjoy French Word-A-Day. You and your family, including Smokey, are special to me. --Joanne Johnson
A book on Roland Terry's work:
Roland Terry: Northwest Master Architect - I am excited to be connected to this Northwest Architect, even if I can't say exactly how we are related! (Update: Roland Terry is my paternal grandfather's first cousin). He appeared at all our family reunions and my youngest cousin, Roland (soon to be nine-years-old) and every bit as brilliant, was named after him. Click here to order the book Roland Terry: Northwest Master Architect
CAPONATA - My new favorite food. Makes a great side dish. Have it alongside couscous, pasta, rice...or on it's own with good bread. Click here to order.
FOUTAS - once again these colorful, absorbent towels were seen everywhere along Mediterranean beaches. Order one here
Many thanks to my cousin Erik, who organized this family reunion. Do check out his site Lindstrom Rugs . Bye for now...I am off to cook up some Caponata and will share the results with you very soon. For Sicilian recipes, this book might inspire you:
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi