Episode 5 of 8: Newly single and determined to stay that way, Mia Maxwell sets off to Sicily. But will her guide's charms and the delights of Sicilian cuisine sharpen her appetite for love and romance as she tours the island gathering material for her upcoming book? -- Greedily Yours is a serial novel about the quest for top dishes ... with a dash of accidental love. -- Mia Maxwell loves food. She loves it so much that she's made it her career. On the surface Mia seems to have it all sewn up. She lives in trendy east London with her best friend. By day she runs her own food PR consultancy, and by night she's a food blogger enjoying a burgeoning audience. Mia has a banker boyfriend who enjoys travelling the world, enabling her to taste the globe's culinary delights. But Mia is still hungry and, when she heads down to Cornwall to run a food festival, she doesn't realize that her entire life is about to be cast adrift. -- For fans of Sophie Kinsella, Trisha Ashley, and Polly Williams. -- Emma Hamilton is the pen name for a journalist and writer who loves food; She was a staff producer and then freelance reporter for the BBC, CBC, and Deutsche Welle. Emma has written for a number of magazines and newspapers, including The Guardian, BBC Magazines, The Mail on Sunday, Four Four Two and Italy Magazine. She has worked on many series and documentaries, including one about food and culture around the world. Emma spent six years reporting from Italy and has made radio programmes in many other countries including Lebanon, Ethiopia, the USA, France, Germany, Russia, and Cameroon. When she's not cooking, reading about food or eating it, she splits her time between presenting, producing and writing. She loves yoga, running, gardening and chilling out with her husband, friends and family at home.
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Greedily Yours - About the Series
About the Book
About the Author
Single in Sicily
Recipes in this Episode
Greedily Yours is a serial novel about the quest for top dishes … with a dash of accidental love. Each episode features new recipes to tickle your taste buds!
Mia Maxwell loves food. She loves it so much that she’s made it her career. On the surface Mia seems to have it all. She lives in trendy east London with her best friend, Lizzie, who owns a cupcake cafe.
By day she runs her own food PR consultancy, and by night she’s a food blogger with a burgeoning audience. Mia has a banker boyfriend, Paul, who enjoys travelling the world, enabling her to taste the globe’s culinary delights.
But Mia is still hungry and, when she heads down to Cornwall to run a food festival, she doesn’t realise that her entire life is about to be cast adrift.
Episode 5 of 8: Newly single and determined to stay that way, Mia Maxwell sets off to Sicily. But will her guide’s charms and the delights of Sicilian cuisine sharpen her appetite for love and romance as she tours the island gathering material for her upcoming book?
Emma Hamilton is the pen name for a journalist and writer who loves food; She was a staff producer and then freelance reporter for the BBC, CBC, and Deutsche Welle. Emma has written for a number of magazines and newspapers, including The Guardian, BBC Magazines, The Mail on Sunday, Four Four Two, and Italy Magazine. She has worked on numerous series and documentaries, including one about food and culture around the world. Emma spent six years reporting from Italy and has made radio programmes in many other countries including Lebanon, Ethiopia, the USA, France, Germany, Russia, and Cameroon. When she’s not cooking, reading about food or eating it, she splits her time between radio presenting, producing, and writing. She loves yoga, running, gardening, and chilling out with her husband, friends, and family.
Episode 5: Single in Sicily
Digital original edition
Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG
Copyright © 2015 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany
Written by Emma Hamilton
Edited by Sean Sinico
Project management: Lori Herber
Cover Design by Kelly Gold — www.kellygold.com
Illustrations: © Shutterstock.com: alicedaniel|graphixmania| bel_ka|tachyglossus| Spirins|Yunna
E-book production: Urban SatzKonzept, Düsseldorf
“Mia,” Noor said, as she walked into the kitchen where Mia was sitting, typing away furiously on her blog, trying to name all the amazing food she’d be eating in Lebanon and uploading half a dozen pictures at the same time. “I didn’t expect you up this early, I was just about to have a coffee, do you want one, too?” Noor, Mia reflected, managed to look shockingly elegant even though she had just got up. Mia, on the other hand, knew her hair was standing on end and she’d pulled on a jumper over her pyjamas so as not to look completely under-dressed in someone else’s house.
“Don’t let me disturb you, please, keep typing, I know how it is when you have the need to write,” Noor said with an easy smile on her face while getting coffee cups out of the cupboard. Almost immediately after Noor appeared, Nadia followed, looking a bit sleepier than her employer but, without being asked, she set about making coffee for the three of them. Noor and Nadia exchanged a few sentences in Arabic quietly as Mia continued to type.
“I’d love a coffee, thank you” replied Mia, looking up from the picture caption she was typing. “And don’t worry about disturbing me, I was actually just updating my blog, so unfortunately not the literary masterpiece, yet, but I hope if I keep a journal of it now, writing the book will be easier later,” Mia replied, a rueful smile on her lips.
“Still, we can leave you if you want to finish,” smiled Noor, seeming to communicate with Nadia just with nods and eye movements as to what should be brought out for an early breakfast. “No, no, it’s fine. I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I may as well try to do something productive. Honestly though, I’d rather have the company,” Mia trailed off, rubbing her eyes sleepily, as if to emphasise her point.
Noor nodded knowingly and arched her eyebrow slightly whilst smiling at Mia, as if to say, “I know what you mean …”
Nadia slipped out discretely and Noor carried on making the coffee, piling the fresh ground beans in a long handled copper bottomed pot with an elegant lip for pouring. She held the pot over the stove’s gas flame gradually, reminding Mia a little of the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, keeping the liquid just below the point of boiling, whilst the rich aroma filled the small kitchen.
“Are you okay, Mia? You just seem a little distracted since yesterday and the drive back from the mountains,” Noor asked, without looking up from the coffee she was making.
“Yeah, I was thinking a lot yesterday and last night, but I’m feeling much better this morning because I’ve actually come to a decision ….” smiled Mia brightly.
“Let me guess, is it trouble with men?” asked Noor, who was turning out to be more terrier like than even Lizzie.
“Am I that transparent?” giggled Mia.
Noor raised her eyebrows and half smiled, half grimaced. “Well, I generally find that is the thing that occupies quite a lot of our time, one way or another. You don’t have to tell me of course, but if you need someone to talk to whilst in a strange land, then I am here for you.”
Without saying more, Noor carefully poured the coffee, holding the little pot’s thin elegant handle high above the small espresso cups. The thick mixture slid out more than it poured almost like molasses into the little white bowl-like cups.
“Well, you are right, Noor,” began Mia. “I’ve spent half the night thinking about men who are, or were, sort of, in my life.”
After putting down the coffee pot, Noor put an elegant soft hand on Mia’s wrist. “Don’t worry, Mia, you can tell me after you’ve drunk your coffee, I don’t want to be influenced by what I see in your grounds. You did know that we Lebanese are experts in telling the future from the remains of a cup of coffee, right?”
Mia giggled, “Oooh that’s perfect for my book, I didn’t know that but I love having my fortune told, so I look forward to that.” Inside Mia was secretly doubly pleased. A coffee ground reading would be great for the book, but it might also give her the extra little push she needed to stick to her new ‘Man Plan’. She felt her decision was the right one but still cheered at the prospect of some supernatural insight to her dilemma.
Mia and Noor sipped in companionable silence, enjoying the strong aroma of cardamom and coffee coming from their cups and nibbling on sesame biscuits. When Mia had got down to the grounds, Noor took her little cup. “I’ll go first then you tell me what you your plan is — it’ll be more fun that way,” she said before closing her eyes, turning the cup over on to the saucer and swirling the cup around a few times.
Mia had to suppress a giggle; she would have neverthought that the elegant Noor would also turn out to be an amateur fortune teller. As the coffee dried a little, Mia could only see swirls of dark brown on the saucer and at the bottom of the cup, but Noor seemed to be communing with a higher power.
“You said men, Mia, and I thought you were referring to men in general, but here I see that there are two men,” Noor said, lifting her eyes from the saucer to look at Mia straight on.
Mia caught her breath a little sharply and leaned over with more interest to see what she could see in the coffee grounds. She nodded and “mmmmed.”
“Yes, it’s not such a clear choice, at least not for you, other people may see it very differently,” mused Noor. “One man you have known for longer, he hurt you but there is unfinished business there. The other man …” Noor stopped and looked more closely at the grounds. “It’s hard to tell the other man’s intentions. They’re obscured behind a few layers of something, maybe scars. Perhaps he’s also been hurt and is scared to embark on something new.”
“I don’t know about being hurt in the past, but that about sums it up, I would say. God, Noor, you’re a genius.” Mia burst into a smile, which turned into a giggle as she thought about Lizzie’s sighs when she told her that yet again she’d found a wise woman to confide in about her life choices. “So what do you think I should do?” asked Mia eagerly.
“Ah,” said Noor enigmatically. “I thought you said you had already decided.”
“Well, yes. I mean I thought I’d made a decision, well I did make a decision,” mumbled Mia. “But really, if you can figure out that much from one cup of coffee then let me drink another and I’m sure you’ll come up with a far-better plan than I have,” Mia said smiling.
“Now, Mia, I’m quite sure you know that’s not the way it works,” Noor replied. “So tell me, what’s your plan?”
“Well, the plan was that I need to get to be a bit more feisty when I get back to London and absolutely NOT chase after either of them, or spend any more time thinking about them unless they have done something that merits my thoughts and my time. I have to stop always being the one that waits for men to decide about me. If there’s one thing that I learned from getting dumped by Paul — and let me tell you he was my boyfriend of four years and he left me in the middle of a holiday in Vietnam — I feel that it’s to listen to my instincts a bit more. Also, I have to start deciding how I feel about someone and not just wait for them to decide about me. They both contacted me this week and got me thinking about what I really want. I think when I get back to London, trying to apply this new attitude will be a fresh start and the best way to move forward,” Mia finished in a rush and smiled at Noor, proud of her new resolve.
“That seems sensible for now,” replied Noor. “There is a lot of murkiness around this issue. I think you don’t have all the facts yet and so you should take time before you really decide which man might be most suited to you. Maybe it’ll turn out to be someone else completely. Or maybe it’ll turn out to be no one at all, I mean a period on your own can be great for you, too.”
As Noor said the last sentence, thoughtfully, Mia’s stomach flipped over and she realised how much she’d been hoping that Noor could reassure her that she would find a path to happiness with one of them. Then she was embarrassed to admit that her new bright and feisty future wouldn’t seem quite so shiny if she was destined to be alone. As Mia processed her slight disappointment at Noor’s admittedly wise words, she realised with a start that what she’d been hoping Noor would say was that Tom was the man for her. But from the coffee grounds, he seemed just as shrouded in secrecy and mystery as he’d ever been.
At that realisation, Mia’s heart sank slightly lower. For all she knew, Tom was busy laying the groundwork for a relationship with Holly, or at least a shag-fest.
“You look disappointed Mia, was that not what you were expecting to hear?” asked Noor.
“I don’t know what I was expecting to be honest with you, Noor. First I thought it would just be a lark to look at the coffee grounds. Then what you said was so true, but hearing that things weren’t clear yet, that made my heart sink a little bit. I thought I’d made a good decision to stop all communications with both of them and to just be on my own for a while and clear my head, but that’s easy to decide when you’re far away. Faced with the proposition of perhaps not finding love at all is a little bit scary, too. I mean, I know they’re coffee grounds, but I’ve got that horrible feeling again of not knowing where to turn. I admit it, I suddenly wish you’d told me that one of them was THE ONE and suitable for me so that I knew, that however long it took, things would work out in the end, you know?”
Noor laughed. “Oh Mia, the coffee grounds only reflect what is in your mind at the moment. They can’t predict the future. I would say, from what I saw, that you weren’t as clear as you thought you were about leaving both these men behind. They may not be playing active roles in your life at the moment, but they’re certainly occupying your mind. And let’s just say I told you that one of them was THE ONE, would you be happy or sad about that?”
Mia knew her answer but pretended to consider Noor’s question for a minute anyway. Then sheepishly, she looked up at Noor, “Weeeellll, as I said, and as you said, the facts aren’t clear. I was disappointed because I somehow wanted a sign, something saying, yes, pick him, he’s the one. I even think I know which one I wanted you to pick, but I’m scared that perhaps I got the wrong end of the stick with him. Perhaps it was just a passing flirt, that he’s only interested in my friendship, that he’s not the right one anyway.” Mia tried to recap the last four months with Paul and Tom as quickly as she could for Noor’s benefit. How she’d been unhappy with Paul but carried on regardless, how she’d started up a friendship with Tom online and had been chatting to him for a few months. Then the chaos of being dumped in Vietnam, only to find Tom turn up just when she was at her lowest. Paul’s silence, the coffee with Tom in London, the hug, the whispered half promises. Getting her hopes up for what she thought might be an actual date with Tom, only for him to show up with Holly on his arm …
“I think,” concluded Mia, “I’ve lost my confidence and I felt really unsure of what to do next.”
Noor sat back and slowly exhaled a long breath after taking in Mia’s recap. “Phew, yes, that is a bit of a complicated one. Well, knowing neither of these guys and not knowing you very well, all I can say is I think you need time. That’s what your unconscious told the coffee to reveal to me. You need time on your own to just be and not constantly be questioning which man you should be with. You’re an impressive woman, Mia, you’re travelling, you’ve got a book to write, you don’t need to be constantly asking yourself whether or not you should be with a man. You’ll have plenty of time to be with them later in life. Right now, enjoy your freedom. Enjoy travelling. Enjoy eating food and writing your book.”
“You are so right,” said Mia, spontaneously hugging Noor across the corner of the kitchen table and causing Noor some surprise. “But if you had to pick one, which one would you go for?”
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