What’s the Real Story?|Yuriko Mikami|KnowLedge World Network|Activities|KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL

  • 2018.10.25
  • What’s the Real Story?
Soon after I arrived in Italy I tasted prickly pear for the first time, in Sicily. That first time prickly pear ever passed my lips, I was surrounded by Sicilians with their eyes fixed on me, as though they were conducting an experiment to see what would happen, rather than actually giving some food to me, this Japanese person who had never eaten prickly pear before. Should I say that the flavor didn’t make much of an impression? Or should I speak frankly and say that it wasn’t my preferred taste? Even now I remember that although I paid them a compliment, saying “That’s delicious!”, that turned into a worry that the enthusiastic gleam in the eyes of these Sicilians, who deep inside imagined me saying “Wow! That’s great! Could I have another one?” had been dampened a bit. Ever since then, whenever I catch a glimpse of a prickly pear, I pretend I haven’t seen it. Sicilians have never offered me any prickly pear after that.


Prickly pear is called “Indian fig” in Italian. It seems that the origin of that name is somehow mixed up with the fact that the explorer Columbus, who is from Genoa in Italy, thought when he landed on the American continent that he had landed in India. Well, I am not fully proficient in Italian yet, and I haven’t come across an article that credibly explains the origin in readily understandable terms, so we’ll just leave the explanation about the origin of the name at that shall we?

So, before I realized, my fondness for reading has faded, and rather than hunting for books, I have been engaged in silly chat, so when things got excited at a lunch one Sunday and I was drawn in by the explanation by an Italian who is good at telling stories, I decided to write about prickly pears in an article.

That Italian has been growing cactuses in their garden at home and despite the poor conditions in Milan with its continually cloudy skies, every year now they always have plenty of prickly pears, so thinking it would be a waste to just throw out what they couldn’t eat, they decided to share the excess with their neighbor. But, even now there is resentment from the neighbor with whom they shared the prickly pears.
By the way, prickly pears are often available in supermarkets in Milan.

Well, getting back to the topic, it seems prickly pears are a fruit that you mustn’t move in the daytime.
I am absolutely certain that this Italian, who was merry with wine, was making fun of me in my innocence, so after a few days I thought I would try buying some prickly pears, but when you move prickly pears when it has gotten warmer, the spines, some of which you can see and some you can’t, pop out from black holes where the spines are clustered to within a 1-meter radius, and the spines will stick into your body. You can only touch prickly pears in the morning when it is cooler. Which reminds me that the Sicilians who made me try prickly pear gave me the prickly pear after cutting it up in the daytime, in summer...

Either I had drunk too much wine, or the Italian who had drunk too much wine was very talkative...
The neighbor who was given the excess prickly pears said “My wife still can’t get the spines from those prickly pears out of her skin.”

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  • Yuriko Mikami
  • AgeDog (INU)
  • GenderFemale
  • JobMusician

A cellist based in Milan. Performs solo and ensemble concerts, as well as produces multi-style stage performances that combine theatrical shows, images, dances and live music.

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