While the COVID-19 pandemic has put the kibosh on travel outside of the United States, Rotarian and travel agent Lori Derauf arranged a virtual trip of sorts for the Waunakee Rotary Club.
At the club’s Aug. 20 meeting, Lori interviewed Eugenia Mazza and her husband Dan, who own Cibus Italian Market at 204 W. Main Street.
Lori said she had the pleasure of visiting the shop, which offers pasta, sauces, cookies and other specialties from Sicily, Eugenia’s hometown, along with imported ceramics.
She asked Eugenia to describe her life growing up in Sicily.
Eugenia is from Palermo, a big town, and was raised near the sea in a small-town environment, she said. She was always curious and adventurous, and at age 14 arranged to come to the United States. She was hosted by a family in Waunakee and stayed for a month.
When she graduated from the University in Palermo, she returned to the area to study for her master’s degree and then her Ph.D. at UW-Madison. She taught Italian for many years.
Eugenia said life growing up was much slower in her hometown, with less planned activities. She found her own activities, and in the summer, she spent time at the sea, swimming.
“There’s a big difference in the rhythm,” she said, adding that now she is used to the American rhythm of life, and when she returns to Sicily, makes more plans and is more active.
Lori said in talking to Eugenia, she learned that Eugenia was unable to return to Sicily this summer, as she usually does. So in opening the store, she has been able to bring Sicily to Wisconsin.
Eugenia added that she had been working at a restaurant the past seven years, and then had time to open a business during the pandemic. By bringing products from Sicily, she has recreated a place where she feels she belongs.
Dan added that there is never a perfect time to start a business.
“When you have the time and you have the motivation, you just have to take a leap,” he said. “We knew it would be challenging. We knew the ride was always going to get bumpy, but life works that way.”
The shop offers pre-packaged food from Italy, products not found in grocery stores. Some examples include sauces with tomatoes, eggplant and swordfish, sauces with clams, and fresh dried pasta. All are organic and gluten-free pastas are available. The store also offers imported ceramics, such as planters and platters.

Other News:
-That rickety pier at Village Center Pond? Gone! Thanks to Ray Statz, Bill Erickson, Phil Willems, Tom Kennedy, Mick Holm, Jim Kattner and anyone else I may have left out for their time Aug. 15 taking the thing out.
The Rotary Board of Directors will discussion options for replacing the pier with a more accessible structure, President Tom Kennedy said. Funds will be needed. Anyone want a pier in their name?
Birthdays: None.
Anniversaries: Aug. 27, Danny and Lori Miller; Aug. 28, Connie and Marjorie Blau.
Programs: Aug. 27 - Stay tuned!