European Common Framework

If you want to learn a language in Europe, you have to have this scheme in your mind

This scale is based on the European Common Framework and follow the scheme shown below:

European Common Framework
A1: Contact
This level recognizes basic knowledge.It is used in familiar and daily situation
A2: Survival
It recognizes the linguistic competency of a basic user: for example, to understand and reply to simple messages
B1: threshold
At this level, the user becomes independent: for example, he exchanges information on familiar conversations
B2: Progress
At this level, the candidate has a degree of fluency and spontaneity in regular interactions and is capable of correcting his/her own mistakes.

C1: Efficiency
They can express themselves fluently and spontaneously . They have a large vocabulary and can choose the appropriate expression to introduce their comments. They can produce clear, well-structured discourse without hesitation and which shows controlled use of structures. He/she can joins in discussions and work meeting.
C2: Proficiency
At this level, users’ proficiency in the language is illustrated by precision, appropriateness and fluency of expression. C2 candidates are capable of using the language for academic and advanced-level purposes.

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European common framework

European common framework

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The Arabs arrive in Mazara on 7 June 782, although there are traces of them already in 652.

Many Sicilian cuisine dishes have been inherited by the Arabs.

Eggplant combined with sweet and sour sauce, olives, capers, vinegar, oil, honey and salt was the preview of caponata of today.

Pasta with sardines with mountain fennel was arranged by a chef for a Arabic Kaid.

Even the ice-cream and sweets are of Arabic origin, accompanied by  essences like cinnamon, jasmine and vanilla

Daniela Cuffaro

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 When did kebabs become Sicilian? The “Italianization” of a foreign idea – Italians adopting something as their own – can be a surprisingly rapid and painless process. Especially where it concerns food. In the years immediately following World War II one of the great “innovations” was the refrigerator, virtually unknown in Sicily until that time but long in use in the United States. Among other things, the introduction of this convenience spawned gelaterias and the sale of granita. For over a decade the units were known as “frigidaires” (the Italian is frigorifero), the word based on their American trade name. There’s no sign of Italians coining a local word for the kebab, a “foreign” food that has taken Sicily – and much of Europe – by storm. This Middle Eastern specialty is based on turkey-meat souvlaki accompanied by (among other things) lettuce, radicchio, carrots, cucumbers, onions and yogurt sauce. Whether you define it as Lebanese, Turkish or Greek, it isn’t Italian in any contemporary sense. But its pedigree may be slightly Sicilian, though here we enter the realm of historical hypothesis. Sicilian cuisine would be more similar to Greek and Middle Eastern cooking had history taken a different course. Into the reign of Frederick II, the Byzantine and Arab elements of Sicilian society could still be identified, and with them their cuisine. By the end of the Middle Ages that was no longer the case. But is this yet another “Tex Mex” – one cuisine melded to another to create a kind of hybrid? There’s no clear answer because no two restaurants serve the kebab in exactly the same way. With it has arrived a variety of Arab specialties, from Tunisian briq to Lebanese hummus. While the kebab hasn’t supplanted pasta or pizza as a favorite Sicilian food, it has become extremely popular in recent years, due partly to a weak economy that discourages pricey restaurant dinners. While it isn’t yet “street food,” the kebab has been embraced very readily by all social classes, not exclusively those usually thought to be more enlightened. It has been suggested that a certain similarity to spleen sandwiches has endeared the kebab to the popolino as much as the aristocracy and every class in-between. In stark contrast to this, the patrons of Sicily’s sushi bars are anything but “popolani.” In Palermo an entire district seems to be dedicated to the kebab! Piazza Olivella is one of the city’s most popular informal spots, not only during the warmer months but most of the year. There are over thirty restaurants in and around the square near the archeological museum and San Filippo Neri Church, within the rectangle formed by Via Cavour, Via Roma and Via Maqueda, near the Teatro Massimo. Dozens of dining places, wine bars and pubs are located in the square itself and also along Via Orologio, Via Bara all’Olivella, Via Spinuzza and the surrounding streets. Open evenings beginning around 8, with outdoor tables year round, many of the restaurants offer hot sandwiches and other delicious specialties It’s crowded on Friday and Saturday evenings, when you should arrive just before 8 unless you want to wait for a table. And nobody should have to wait too long for a kebab.

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Nobody knows precisely when the tradition began, but decorative “votive” bread has been popular in Sicily for centuries. It is part of a wider Mediterranean practice known in Greece and other countries, and probably can be traced to Sicily’s Greek Orthodox past. Paschal (Easter) bread is just one part of this colourful culinary tradition, known throughout southern Italy and associated with many local customs. Sicily’s more creative bakers often reveal their talent as sculptors for other religious feasts, such as those of Saint Joseph, Saint Martin and Saint Agatha. Christmas is another occasion for bread sculpture, with nativity scenes dominating during the holiday season. The bread sculptor’s art transcends religious figures. Objects (swords, palm fronds, crosses) and animals (lambs, fish) are also created. Sometimes the bread is stuffed with figs and other delights. It can also be coloured, though purists avoid this practice. Bread sculpture owes its religious significance to Christian liturgical tradition, which celebrates bread as the body of Jesus Christ. Then there is the blessing of the votive bread, not to be confused with the Eucharistic of the Mass. In Sicily, once the “granary of the roman Empire,” it is no wonder that bread, of all things, would be used to express popular devotion. The technique itself is not as simple as it may at first glance seem. Recipes are inherited, passed from one baker to another over generations. The amount of yeast used to make the bread expand perfectly while baking, without impeding the realisation of the forms desired, must be exact. Often, very little yeast is included at all. Each locality has its distinctive forms, often quite stylised, sometimes linked to the veneration of a local patron saint or even a local event. The more ornately crusted works of art, which may be remarkably detailed, are intended more for display than eating. The very thought of bread sculpture is delicious.

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Vincenzo Bellini

Although Sicily’s “Second City,” Catania, cannot boast royal tombs nor imperial mausoleums, it does possess the hallowed remains of the island’s greatest musical talent: Vincenzo Bellini. His tomb can be visited at the famous Baroque cathedral of Catania, but his music is full of life. The romantic and tragic operatic composer was born in Catania at the end of 1801 and died quite young in France in 1835. Yet in those three short decades he produced operas of such sublime beauty and sentiment that even today, after almost two centuries, he can be ranked alongside longer-lived and highly productive contemporaries such as Gaetano Donizetti and Giuseppe Verdi. Indeed, all three were masters of the Italian operatic school of “bel canto.” That is to say, dramatic theatre pieces set to music with sweet and memorable melodies that showcase the vocal powers of great singers! Vincenzo Bellini showed himself to be one of the great craftsmen of this movement. Probably displaying a natural propensity for music at an early age, he was allowed to travel to Naples, then not merely the capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies but a bustling, vibrant and colorful centre of culture. Bellini studied at the Music Conservatory with some of the greatest contemporary teachers in Europe of this refined art form called “lyric opera,” whose showcase was the San Carlo, one of Italy’s most important opera houses. His first incursions into the world of operatic theatre were highly appreciated if a bit archaic stylistically. Yet, he came to the attention of a well-known impresario, Domenico Barbaja. This Neapolitan artistic entrepreneur introduced the young Bellini to the famous opera house of Milan, La Scala. Thanks to Barbaja, Bellini was commissioned to compose Il Pirata in 1827. This maiden work was a tremendous success and it established for the young composer not only a celebrated style and technique but also a very productive partnership with the librettist Felice Romani, who would collaborate with Bellini on almost all his operas, and with the noted soprano Giuditta Pasta. Together, they created works of art their contemporaries could only marvel at. They were an inspired trio the likes of which could be compared to the later American triumvirate of talent on the Broadway stage of Rodgers and Hammerstein interpreted by Mary Martin. What ensued was a succession of beautiful operas displaying with each passing year a growing sophistication, and for Bellini an artistic liberation from the dominance of that other contemporary giant, Gioacchino Rossini –a friend of Bellini. With careful attention to the original libretto by Romani, the young genius weaved in to the opera long meandering vocals always full of melody and sentiment while peppering the music with hints of remembered Sicilian folk songs. Of his ten operas the more memorable are I Capuleti e i Montecchi in 1830, based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, La Sonnambula in 1831, the tragic and ancient story of Norma with the magnificent Signora Pasta singing the title role and, finally in 1835, I Puritani. With the performance of this last work, Paris, where Bellini was then living, toasted the maestro. Like Mozart, Schubert and others, Bellini was struck down on the threshold of his career’s peak. He died in September 1835 in a Paris suburb of intestinal disease and a liver ailment. The world, and his home island in particular, will remember Bellini as long as opera is performed, and must always wonder what otherwise might have been. About the Author: Beniamino Inserra is Best of Sicily’s resident opera critic and the author of numerous hard-copy articles.

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For hundreds of years, fishermen in Sicily and Sardinia have used dense nets to capture the Mediterranean bluefin tuna (thunnus thinnus) in a quasi-spiritual procedure known as the mattanza. This takes place in May and June, when the giant fish swim past the coasts. In Sicily, the few remaining mattanzas take place off the island’s western point among the Egadi Islands. The term “mattanza” comes to us from an old Spanish word, matar, meaning “to kill.” Many terms, such as rais (head fisherman of the mattanza), are actually Arabic in origin, introduced in the ninth century when, during the Arab domination of Sicily, the technique became popular. There are indications, however, that it is much older, possibly originating, in some form, in the Phoenician or Carthaginian era. Averaging over two hundred kilograms (over four hundred pounds), the fish are now popular in the Japanese market, where the delicious red meat is used in sashimi and sushi. It must be said that this fresh tasty meat is a breed apart from the bland whitish stuff sold in cans. Bluefin, many of which escape into the Atlantic, may also be consumed young. The keys to a successful mattanza, apart from the obvious questions of supply (overfishing has reduced the number of larger tuna in recent years) and weather, are organisation and technique. A series of vast nets are lowered into the water. The tuna are captured in successive nets which are gradually restricted in size and raised toward the surface, where the fish are attacked with what might be described as large spears in a sophisticated trap system. Reaching 4.3 meters (14 feet) in length and weighing as much as 800 kilograms (1800 pounds), the bluefin is the largest tuna, surpassing the skipjack, albacore, yellowfin and bigeye. Unlike these other worldwide species, the bluefin lives in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The network of net chambers is called an isola (island). One of the interesting things about the mattanza is the team effort of the numerous fishermen involved in each catch. From his boat, the rais directs the work of the men in the other small boats. Because a mattanza is the catch of an entire school of fish, dozens of tuna may be captured. The ambience of bloody water and particularly large fish, which may be compared to cattle or large game, leaves one with a singular impression. There’s nothing like watching the fish struggle as they are herded into ever smaller, shallower net chambers (the final one is called the “chamber of death”) and finally lifted onto the boats. Indeed, the term mattanza has found its way into the Italian vernacular as a synonym for “massacre.” Just how long the mattanza itself survives remains to be seen. As time passes, the tuna are diminishing in size and numbers, while demand increases in world markets. This has prompted legal restrictions. A hundred years ago, there were dozens of small “tonnare” (tuna canneries) along the Sicilian coasts, though the word “tonnara” originally referred to the complex series of nets used in tuna fishing during the mattanza. The occupation of tuna fishing was more widespread, with hundreds of tonnarotti (tuna fishermen) throughout Sicily. Tunny fishing has usually been a seasonal profession in Sicily, with the tonnarotti catching other fish during the autumn and winter. Breaded fried tuna steaks are a traditional Sicilian specialty. Tuna steaks are also good simply grilled. For something different, try it “Japanese-Sicilian” style –raw sprinkled with varietal extra virgin olive oil and freshest lemon juice.

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Salt Pans



Trapani and Marsala are famous for more than wine and seafood. Trapani, in particular, boasts some of Europe’s oldest salt marshes, and is still home to some of the windmills once used to drain water from the basins (containing ponds). Drawing salt from water remains a slow process, similar to desalination, something talked about more and more with the serious water supply problems confronting Sicily. The evaporation procedure utilises the flat marshlands of Trapani’s coast and the long, dry Sicilian summers.

Salt extraction was a technology known to the ancient Egyptians, and in Sicily dates at least from the time of the Greeks and Romans. It has flourished in the Trapani area unto the present day, not for a lack of “dry” salt deposits in Sicily (where there are several mines), but because many cooks prefer sea salt to that harvested from other sources. The windmills, however, were a medieval development.

By the nineteenth century, Sicilian sea salt was exported to European countries as far away as Norway and Russia. Several of the British firms involved in other Sicilian exports, namely Marsala wine and sulpher, helped develop the international trade in sea salt.

In Sicily, the sea salt is often sold wet or damp. For this reason a few grains of rice are sometimes placed with the salt in a shaker to absorb moisture and prevent caking.

Trapani, ancient Drepanum, was the port for Erice, and the town’s fortunes have always been tied to the sea. By the nineteenth century tuna had become an important product. It still is. Salt is just one part of the picture.

An appetizing part, some would say. Nobody doubts the purity of Trapani’s salt, but its trace elements give it a special flavour. It seems perfect for fish recipes like the seafood couscous for which Trapani is famous. The windmills are no longer necessary, but at least a few will continue to turn for years to come

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a tribute to Sicily by a great Italian singer. Good listening

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The earth day, not only for today. thank you

April 22nd is Earth Day, it’s only a few short days away! This year, Earth Day’s theme is themed after A Billion Acts of Green: our people-powered campaign to generate a billion acts of environmental service and advocacy before Rio +20.
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