Having cake and discussing which direction we’re all going

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Box of pastries…carbohydrates a plenty

Although I’ve got writing assignments and plenty of other obligations, I realised recently that I hadn’t been keeping the horde of my readers up to date on what’s going on hereabouts. For one thing, Elaine came to visit and we continued our Cake Across Europe tour that we began last year in Palermo.

Oh, here’s a collection of what I wrote about all of that:

Palermo Posts

And here’s some of what Elaine made from that trip

Nobody’s Perfect. Even me

Alone and existential in Palermo – What to do?

It seems that while everyone else is cutting carbohydrates out of their diets, Elaine and I go the other direction when we’re together. Plenty of my friends and acquaintances are toying with variations of high protein/low carb eating. Listening to those who’re obsessed with the Paleo Diet, many of our modern health problems are directly related to the effect sugar has on us. The argument goes that because carbs turn to sugar, we’re better off decreasing them as much as we can.

While I’m not going to wade into that debate here, and it’s a tangent I’m not prepared to go onto at this point anyway, I will concede that Elaine and my cake consumption is not the ideal health choice we could make. If I thought anyone was mad enough to actually look to either of us for nutrition advice, I’d include some sort of ‘Don’t try this at home, kids’ warning. Luckily, that’s not a concern.

Instead, the thrust of our week together was brainstorming and planning for how we’re going forward with our online presence. Because at our age, we’re sandwiched between the generations of people who didn’t have any of this technology and the digital natives who have grown up with it all around them, we’re in a position to have watched the good and bad that can be created in an online community.

People get bent out of shape because of something that was said in response to a post on Feckbook, and things can so easily escalate into name calling and blocking and genuine bad blood. We see the power of curating content and believe that our wall or stream on various platforms is like our virtual neighbourhood. So an ongoing topic between us is what to do when people get unruly on your page.

When it’s a genuine exchange of ideas, both and Elaine and I can overlook a bit of invective. A bit. However, when it turns to personal attacks, there’s an advantage in editing out the more cruel voices. Is that suppression of ideas? Censorship?

Yep, it is. It’s my wall. Go pollute your own space with your poison.

I’ve watched carefully over the years how major media sources deal with readers comments. When users still have some ability to stay anonymous, it seems there’s more inappropriate behaviour, but even people using their real names can be schmucks.

So, I’m curious what experiences you’ve had with this. Have you altered the settings on your blog or social media platforms where comments have to be approved first? Do you even bother with such thoughts? What’s your position on this? Don’t be shy.

winding streets and churches and finally cake

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What could be along this winding street in Palermo?

Suppose I’m easing into the more conventional travel photos, but they’re finally here. Things like this street are what I find myself more attracted to at the moment, though. Having said that, here’s the cathedral:

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From behind the Cattedrale Maria Santissima Assunta

Quite a name, eh? How many churches do you know with Santissima in their moniker? Oh, and if you liked that angle, check it out from the other side:

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Flying Buttresses and everything…

Although there are plenty of churches here and you could easily only talk about the wide variety on offer, as many as I’ve seen I didn’t get the best photos.

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While very Baroque on the inside, here’s another exterior of a church.

Have been trying to figure out what these red silos on the roof of the church are all about. I’m sure a proper travel blog would find that out for you, but something in me wants to continue wondering. Incidentally, it’s called the Chiesa di San Cataldo.

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The fountain that Goethe purportedly liked

Elaine’s theory is that there was so much dirty stuff in Palermo that when Goethe happened upon this fountain, he was impressed primarily because of its relative cleanliness. To me it seems uncommonly clean. Strange, isn’t it? Something quite gorgeous, but here I am questioning its authenticity in some form.

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Even in the off season, there are scooters whooshing by…everywhere.

You can smell the fuel just looking at this photo, right? Much like Athens, the streets here simply reek of it. The temperature apparently rarely falls to freezing here, so even though it gets cold, one can ride scooters year-round. And ride them they do.

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This gateway is part of the Palazzo dei Normanni, which is under some sort of construction.

Have seen some fantastic shots of this, but mine got it when it was in the midst of its regular maintenance. However, I suppose you can still see the best of it. Are they guarding the palace? I don’t think the ones without arms are going to be of much help.

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Yet another mystery of Palermo

How did this tree grow in such an odd winding manner? It’s almost as if it wants to stay as close to the wall as it possibly can.

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The reward for all the walking and breathing in fumes?

Then, at some point, we had cake. That thing on the left was some sort of pastry filled with and then slathered with a butter fat icing. There’s a lot of injecting food with liquid food here. It’s quite delicious, but you spend most of the time eating it marvelling at the mechanics of the whole thing. Then the other ones were a berry-flavoured cake and then a chocolate layered thing. Both were delicioso, or something…

I think this next photo says it all:

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Post carnage

 

creating a backstory…for all of Palermo

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A very comfortable place to have a lie down

We are bad tourists, Elaine and I, and we’ve not done much of anything to right our wrongs. Partially due to our limited skills in the speaking of Sicilian, or Italian for that matter, and partially because we’re so wrapped up in our meandering conversations, we’ve had nearly no interaction with any actual Sicilians during our time here.

It hasn’t stopped us from having strong opinions about what they’re up to. We’ve created a backstory for all of this.

The dogs seem to have figured the place out rather well. There are many, and they don’t appear sick. They’re not emaciated…someone must be feeding them. Not sure if the photo above shows it clearly enough, but that dog is actually lying in a busy street. Although the cars seem to speed up when they encounter a pedestrian, they steer clear of anything canine.

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Get in on the Real Estate while it looks bombed out.

There are so many places that gentrify and then the original occupants talk about how wonderful things used to be. I’ve come to the conclusion that now must be when everything here was truly great. Before this corner of Palermo has been bought up and rebranded. We’ve grown accustomed to this, so much so that when we go to other parts of the city, we miss our ruins.

If there is going to be an Apocalypse of some sort, living hereabouts would prepare you for at least the aesthetics of that new reality. There are certainly some advantages to the way things are done here.

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Can you see the garden on the balcony?

For example, there are some distinct advantages to having a bit of green on your balcony. Pots and whatnot really are overrated if you think about it. Here you’re able to have a bit of the wildness under your feet.

There are plenty of beautiful sights here, you know. I suppose I shall get to those in due course. The street food of Palermo is another thing I can’t fathom passing up.

At some point, we really should actually attempt a bit of dialogue with the locals. I’m just not sure their real story will be nearly as entertaining as the one we’ve created for them.

oranges aren’t the only meat

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oranges aren’t the only meat 

There are already more photos of Palermo than one can shake the proverbial stick at, but I just can’t be bothered to sift through them yet and decide which are interesting to anyone other than me.

So, I’ll give you one ridiculous shot and a bit of a story. The handful of you who still come here are doing so for the narrative anyway, right? The photos are gravy, I’m assuming.

What’s with the title of this blogpost, you ask? Well, it comes thanks to Elaine (@elaine4queen), with whom I’m conquering Palermo. There was talk of cake, but we’ve not actually found any of that yet. In the process of our hunt for cake, however, we did find these Orange Balls.

We had both heard of these, but the billing didn’t quite do them justice. Nevertheless, until technology catches up and allows me to upload the taste of something on a blog, a description will have to suffice.

It’s a ball of some sort of corn breading with a variety of different fillings depending on the whims of whoever’s cooking. In this case, we were offered either Ham and Cheese or Meat. When I inquired about what sort of meat specifically was involved in the latter, the woman behind the counter looked at me incredulously and said with an odd finality, ‘Meat.’

Some might have balked, but now I was genuinely curious. The decision was snatched away from us, when the woman announced that they were, alas, out of the Ham and Cheese. We were having the Meat, and have it we did.

They were delicious. There’s a reason why numerous people, upon hearing we were going to Palermo, insisted we try the Orange Balls. There’s nothing remotely citrus about them, incidentally. Orange is a colour here, rather than a taste. Yet they were filling and somehow decadent, and even before we were halfway done, it was clear that there would be no room left for cake.

You could possibly be one of those folk who believes there’s always room for cake. To such a person, I’ll only say, ‘Have an Orange Ball in Palermo and get back to me on that one.

A break in the mundane for a bit of Bon vivantery

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The Lenbach House in Munich’s Maxvorstadt neighbourhood.

Training for my new job has taken much of my time & nearly all of my energy, so the first thing that’s taken a backseat was blogging. Was recently alerted that this incarnation of my blogging is exactly two years old. Too bad I’ve not prepared anything more festive to celebrate the occasion.

However, I do have some rather good news for the excitement level of this site. Read recently that Elaine (@elaine4queen) was planning to run off and join the circus. Then I received an offer she thought I couldn’t refuse: Would I like to go with her? Run away and join the circus? Well, I don’t think either Elaine or I were cut out for the acrobatic or circus-like arts, but when she came up with a second option, I couldn’t resist. What, you ask, might that second option be?

WE’RE GOIN’ TO PALERMO, YOU MOTHER SCRATCHERS…

Now, up until now I’ve refrained from bandying about stale stereotypes about Sicily being overrun by mafia sorts. To be frank, I’m momentarily easily distracted by stories of Palermo being the international centre of cake. What’s in store for you neglected readers in the next week or so is quite arguably the best thing that’s been going on hereabouts for a very long while.

Let the cake-ing commence. I can’t promise there won’t be at least one utterance of the questionably-attributed Marie Antoinette quote. You know? The one about running away and joining the circus.