By Alessandra Bianco, MA 2013-14
OK, I have to admit, this post is a little bit selfish – I am about to embark on a week-long trip to Sicily, which naturally has me wondering, what should I eat? This island region of Italy, which looks like a ball being kicked by the boot, features one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Mt. Etna, a long history of different cultures ruling the island, and a hilly landscape with rich soil, all of which come together for a diverse and delicious gastronomic landscape. Famous for its seafood and desserts, the cuisine in Sicily is not to be missed.
The Island with the Best Desserts
Cassata Siciliana– The traditional recipe is made of sweet goat ricotta cheese, sponge cake, almond paste, candied fruits and icing sugar. Some traditional recipies also call for the use of pistacchio, cinnamon, pine nuts, chocolate or maraschino (a cherry liquor).
Cannoli- tube-shaped shell of fried pastry, filled with sweet ricotta cream and candied fruits. It has been adapted to several different versions, one with chocolate chips!
Sorbetto di Limone– Sicilian lemon sorbet.
Granita- A cross between a frozen drink and a flavoured ice.
For more delicious desserts from Italy, visit: http://www.discoveritalianfood.com/italian-desserts.html
These balls of creamy risotto rice will have you drooling. They are stuffed with cheese and meat (although options vary- try them with peas and potatoes or ham and cheese), then breaded, and fried. Their name comes from their size and shape with resembles an arancia, an orange
Pistacchio di Bronte
“Pistachios were first brought to Sicily in the 9th century when Arab conquerors ruled the land. Today, the area of Bronte in eastern Sicily, fertile from the volcanic soil of Mount Etna, is world-famous for producing what they call “green gold.” You will see pistachios liberally used everywhere, flavoring gelato, granita, cookies, and pastries with their rich, nutty flavor. Keep an eye out for jars of savory pesto di pistacchio and sweet crema di pistachio in local grocery stores. They make a tasty souvenir—see that the label says “Pistacchio di Bronte” to be sure you’re getting the real thing. Ingredient labels will also often have the percentage of pistachio used, so the higher the better.”
Frutti di Mare
Frutti di Mare- Fruits of the sea are plenty on the island of Sicily! Steamed mussels, oysters, prawns, lobster, crab, shrimp, and clams are a typical specialty all around Sicily. But if you need some carbs with your seafood, you can try the following dishes:
Spaghetti ai ricci: Spaghetti with a delicate, slightly salty taste, tomato sauce and sea urchins.
Pasta con le sarde: Bucatini with sardines, fennel, saffron, pine nuts, and raisins
Caponata: Eggplants are chopped and fried, and then seasoned with sweet balsamic vinegar, capers, and sometimes pine nuts and raisins.
Parmigiana di melanzane: Known to English speakers as “eggplant parmesan” (although there’s no parmesan in the dish), eggplant is sliced, fried, and layered with cheese and tomato.