There was a decidedly tantalising flavour to the WI meeting this month. The international ambience came from our charming Sicilian speaker, Rosaria di Giovanna, whose ebullient personality endeared her to the full complement of ladies who had come to view her skill – producing a delicious bowl of caponata siciliana. With the warm air blowing through the open windows and the attractively decorated tables, one could have imagined our village hall transported to the dusk of a Mediterranean beach just south of Palermo.

Our speaker came to England at 13 years old in 1968, when she and her sister joined their father, whose expertise as a hairdresser and barber had won him a position in Harrods. Neither girl knew any English but their determination to forge a new life helped them to learn the language. In Rosaria’s case learning several languages resulted, in later life, in a position as interpreter. She travelled widely for the Metropolitan Police and now teaches Italian at home. During her time she has taught in schools, become a European tour guide and owned a restaurant. Clearly she has followed her own star and found great success.

The dish she cooked would suit even a vegetarian. She started by chopping aubergine, several onions and garlic, celery hearts with their leaves, all combined with salt. Blanched tomatoes, a handful of capers and green olives completed the ingredients until white wine and balsamic vinegars with basil leaves worked their magic. Flavour there was aplenty. As the ladies crunched through the crispy bruschetta and tropical vegetables, followed by our traditional cakes, tea and coffee, some might have regretted eating earlier.

The meeting was completed by a report from Meryl Rice, Friends of the Earth member, who introduced the British Bee Count – 250 species in our gardens, all working for our benefit.

The next meeting, on July 13, will tell us about ‘The Joy of False Memory’ – sounds fascinating. Before then, you may meet some of our members at the Snitterfield Fête on Sunday June 19, where the WI will once more run the tombola.

Barbara Alcock