If somebody ever asked me what my favourite place in the world was, I’d answer Sicily without hesitation. That’s why if you still have any doubts whether to visit Sicily or not, then all your doubts should disappear. In Sicily not only will you find eight towns included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it also enchants with its rich history, magnificent landscapes, fuming Etna, cordial people and delicious food. I love Italian food, but only in Sicily I was able to eat as much to gain 5 kilos in just one week. And you know what? I have no regrets because it was the best culinary week in my life which I’m very thankful for to my friend Loretta and her friends.
Good morning sicilian breakfast
It is thanks to its location on Mediterranean Sea and its unusual history that Sicily owes its culinary richness. Flavours from all over the world blend here and fertile and volcanic soil makes the oranges taste like a God’s drink. My culinary adventure started on the first day of my stay in Paterno in Catania province. The first thing I smelled after I woke up was an aromatic smell of brewed coffee and fresh bread which was just brought from a bakery by Loretta’s grandma. I’m not keen on coffee itself but I love taking delight in its smell, aroma, a sound of coffee machine and steam itself. It all makes that drinking cappuccino for breakfast is like a little celebration of a day for me. Of course, I couldn’t stop myself from smelling still warm croissants and tasting home-made fruit preserves. In Sicily, like everywhere in Italy, breakfasts are eaten sweet. Everything was finger-licking good but it was pistachio cookies (pistachios) that stole my heart. I remember this flavour till this day. These are small shortbread cookies made of special pistachio flour.
The best is sicilian mama’s dinner
Pistachios are practically omnipresent in Sicilian food. They are added even to sauces. My favourite pasta is home-made macaroni casarecce with cream and pistachio sauce prepared by Loretta’s mother one day. Simply finger-licking good.
In Sicily there are only sweet desserts
It’s not a lie that besides sightseeing I was practically eating all the time, but I’m not going to describe everything here because you may think I’m a glutton (well, I am a bit). So that I wouldn’t skip even one day, Loretta prepared a list of things I have to try. I implemented it in detail until the last evening when despite my great cravings I wasn’t able to finish sweet cannoli– shortbread cream roll of ricotta cheese and vanilla sprinkled with powdered sugar. Only because I still didn’t digest delicious Sicilian pizza, sea fruit pasta and a super –sweet cassata cake (sponge cake filled with ricotta, marzipan and candied fruit).
Sicily is full of seafood and fruits
In my kitchen sea fruit, fish and fresh fruit always came first. Each time I have an access to them, I try to fill myself up for the whole year. Sicily is an ideal place for this. Fruit and vegetables on local markets look so juicy and delicious that it is hard to believe they are real. One day in Catania on a market I saw peaches that were the size of a melon. I asked a farmer if they were real? A man only handed me one with a smile and said that one was free for me. I thanked him and sat on a bench ready to consume. But how was I supposed to bite into it? On one! My goodness, how delicious it was. I felt juice gushing down my cheeks. It was the best peach I had ever eaten in my life. I quickly came back to his stand to buy the whole bag. The man smiled again and explained to me in a broken English that Sicily had the tastiest fruit and vegetables in the world owing to its soil which is frequently fertilized by outpouring Etna. I believe it, and you?
In Catania, just like in other towns, there is a fish market organised at least once a week. As a great fan of sea food, I couldn’t miss that. Some people say that these fish stink, I claim they smell nice. A fish market in Catania was love from the first sight. Despite not being large in size, it delighted with its richness and variety of products. Everything was nicely displayed and fresh straight from a fishing boat. I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t know where to look. There were fish that I saw live for the first time in my life. I had never assumed that, for instance, a sawfish had such a big saw and a shrimp could be bigger than a crab. Even if you don’t like eating fish, it’s worth being here because of the views.
Let’s try sicilian fast food
My schedule of staying in Sicily was very tight. I was practically in a different place each day. I couldn’t usually eat my fill with breakfasts so a local fast food came to my aid. While buying a bus ticket, I treated myself with arancino (fried rice ball with meat stuffing and tomato sauce – con ragu or with an eggplant – con burro or mozzarella with ham) or panino con panelle (a roll with a baked chickpeas pastry for no more than 2 euros).
What is alternative for ice cream?
To cool off, I usually took a traditional Sicilian dessert called granita. At first sight it looked like a bucket with crushed ice and, to a large extend, it is. On a hot day it is the best and the cheapest way to refresh yourself. There are different flavours available. My favourite was the lemon based flavour.
Sicilian delicacies and sweets not only on wedding
At the end I’ll mention fruit- frutta Martorana, which surprised me at a Sicilian wedding. Anyway, I was surprised by many things at the wedding, especially by the amount of food that was to be eaten. One of the typical traditions is the so called Venetian Hour. It’s the time when a nicely decorated huge table is brought to the room with a dozen or so kinds of cakes, cookies and fruit on it. There’s so much of everything that your sight isn’t able to sweep it. If you’ve ever been to such a wedding, then you know that one doesn’t move there too much. Instead of dancing, people walk and talk about life.
But let’s come back to Martorana fruit which look like fruit but in fact they aren’t. They are made of almond based flour and sugar and later they are adequately coloured. A legend says they were invented by Martorama convent nuns who hanged them in their orchard instead of real fruit. They look so mouth-watering that it’s impossible not to get tempted. Owing to their sweetness, however, you can’t eat too much of them.