In 1976 I passed some months in a shepherd’s family for ethnological studies about family structures in the countryside of South West Crete. Years later I returned to the island in search of the traces of matriarchy in ancient and modern Crete. The fascinating culture of Knossos 1500 BC was dominated by women, but recently excavated archaeological objects showed that in this ancient society the roles of women and men were merely equal. No traces of war in more than 1000 years. This model of a better world was destroyed by natural disasters and invasions of warriors.
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«We don’t want your help,» says the sex worker Undine from Hamburg, «because we do our work voluntarily.» Together with colleagues, she has founded a professional association that works for the recognition of sex work as a profession. The prostitutes defend themselves against feminists and politicians who demand a ban on sex buying like in Sweden. The Swedish model is considered exemplary, but a look behind the scenes shows that it is anything but ideal and criminalises and endangers not only clients but also prostitutes. Swedish sex workers talk about their fears, and a leading official at the social welfare office admits that he himself is becoming increasingly sceptical. Cultural historian Susanne Dodillet explains why the Swedish model is hardly suitable for other countries.
Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Swabians, Spaniards and French have conquered and ruled Sicily over the centuries and left traces of their culture, also in the cuisine. Streetfood in Palermo: In the markets you can eat fried rice balls, raw sea urchins and tripe. Spanish influenced are the Empanadas, the stuffed dumplings. The sweet and sour caponata made of vegetables, capers and olives is a mix of all Mediterranean culinary arts. In San Vito Lo Capo, the stronghold of Sicilian couscous, the proximity to North Africa is clearly noticeable. The island of Favignana was once the scene of tuna fishing. Peppe prepares a salad of raw tuna, aloe vera, fruits and aromatic herbs. At Modica, the Floridia family produces the protected Ragusano cheese. The «flying chef» Carmelo Chiaramonte philosophises at the fish market in Catania. A group of young, ambitious chefs shine with interpretations of traditional cuisine.
Five thousand years ago the donkey was domesticated. The last wild specimens are very rare and extremely endangered. The Basel Zoo coordinates the European breeding programme for Somali wild donkeys. Especially around the Mediterranean, the donkey was indispensable as a workhorse, but now it has had its day. In Cyprus there are hundreds of old donkeys that are no longer needed in agriculture. In the Donkey Sanctuary they find asylum and are lovingly cared for until the end of their lives. If a new task is not found for the house donkey, there is a danger that not only individual breeds will die out, but that soon there will be no donkeys at all. The motto is preservation through use. An organic farm in Italy with eight hundred donkeys of different breeds produces milk, cosmetics from donkey milk and meat in a closed cycle. The dung ends up in the fields, where barley is grown, which serves as fodder and straw. Donkeys can accompany trekkings, pull carriages or be used as mounts for children. They are also good therapists. In the Saxerriet prison they help prisoners to improve their social relationship skills.
Tortellini, tagliatelle and ravioli: Bologna and Emilia-Romagna are the strongholds of fresh pasta. Aromatic herbs play an important role in Ligurian cuisine. For the Trofie al Pesto, the basil is cut by hand. Pasta production in Gragnano near Naples has a long tradition. Thomas Verdillo of Tommaso’s Restaurant in Brooklyn, grandson of emigrants from Naples, feels as an American and yet is a true Italian, always in search of the best recipes of Italian cuisine. Organic grain, pure spring water, gentle processing and exclusive packaging make pasta an affordable luxury item. Pasta is more than the steaming bowl of spaghetti on the family table. The creations of star chef Davide Scabin from Turin resemble futuristic sculptures.
In Sardinia there are more people than elsewhere who live to be over a hundred years old and stay healthy. What is the secret of this long life? Giovanni Vacca recently turned one hundred years old and he is still joking. Mariantonia Loddo, 103 years old, is proud of her beautiful hands and sings about the youth that passes so quickly. Rosa Frau is even 108 years old. Every day she mounts her headphones and listens to Radio Maria. In Sardinia, there is an above-average number of centenarians, not only women but also men. The phenomenon of longevity is being studied by a team of researchers. Is it genetics? The diet? By now the secret seems to have been solved. With the participation of the best interpreters of Sardinian music and the best-selling author Michela Murgia.
In order to understand horses, one must know their natural behaviour. The wild horses of Dülmen have been observed for many years and this has revolutionized horse keeping. Sex and love in horses. Research of the Swiss National Stud in Avenches shows that horses choose the genetically suitable one when they have a free choice of partner and that fertility is significantly increased. Horses are athletes, money machines, leisure companions, movie stars and meat suppliers. If horses have no task, the species becomes extinct. From the difficulty of preserving old horse breeds. Wrong horse keeping causes massive problems. Horses are very social animals and wither away when kept in solitary confinement. Too little exercise and overfeeding leads to sick teeth, lung problems, colic and other diseases.
Naples is the home of the real pizza. Every year at the pizza festival the best pizzerias are awarded. To the great surprise of the Neapolitans, a pizzeria from Japan is among them. Red tomatoes, white mozzarella and green basil: the national colours on the pizza for Queen Margherita gave the most famous pizza its name. In New York, Italian emigrants caused a sensation with pizza. Tony Muia, son of Calabresen, leads with his pizza tour to the best pizzerias in Brooklyn. Pizza is the most successful quick dish of all and still a healthy meal if you do it right. In NZZ Swiss made: Cake with history. The “Gâteau de Vully”, a speciality from the French part of Switzerland.