Five Must-Eat Foods in SicilyThursday, May 31, 2012
This past weekend, my dear Felix Friend and ConCon tied the knot! (Remember them from The French Laundry?) The wedding was gorgeous and bonkers funâ€”just like the love birds themselves. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Felix and Connie are headed to Sicily for their honeymoon, so I thought this would be a good time to post about some of my favorite foods to seek out while they’re there.
Let’s show off some more stunning wedding photos first. I love to pimp out my talented friends and Dennis makes it easy. Seriously, to all you brides out there looking for a photog to capture your glowing bridal beauty, check him out.
Now, back to the food. I am so excited the newlyweds chose Sicily for their honeymoon spot. It was one of our favorite destinations from our Italy trip last summer, with stunning beauty to be found everywhere and incredible food.
There’s something about this sensuous island that makes its food so swoon-worthy. Perhaps it has something to do with the blazing Mediterranean sun, bronzing bodies all along the shoreline, or the sultry night breezes, or the lemon trees that perfume the air.
Whatever it is, Sicily makes you hungry.
You find yourself diving into thick watermelon wedges, letting the juice run off your elbows. You feel the abundance of good olive oil nourishing your soul and making your skin supple. You feast deep into the night. And while the list of good eats to be had in Sicily is too long to name, here is a short list of five items you really can’t miss.
Arancini are essentially balls of creamy risotto rice, typically stuffed with cheese and meat, then breaded and fried to a golden crisp. They are the size and shape of an orange (or arancia) which is how they get their name, although sometimes they’re shaped into more of a cone shape. Traditionally, they are filled with melted cheese, some peas, and a tomato-based meat sugo, however, you can find interesting variations like ones stuffed with pistachio pesto, for example.
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 pistacchio in local grocery stores. They make a tasty souvenirâ€”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.
First, let’s get the lingo right so the locals respect you. It’s one cannolo, two cannoli. Capische? This iconic Sicilian pastry is said to have originated in Palermo and the area surrounding. The hallmark of a great cannolo is a fresh, crispy shell that crumbles into a mess when you bite it, and a ricotta cream filling that is decadent yet surprisingly light at the same time. Leave the gun, take the cannoli.
GRANITA E BRIOCHE
Granita in Sicily is not like granita anywhere else. Sicilian granita is smooth and thick, like sorbet. It is more scoop-able than it is slurp-able. Creamy nut flavors like almond (mandorle) and pistachio (pistacchio) are popular, as are seasonal fruit flavors like strawberry (fragola) or mulberry (gelsi). A favorite local way to enjoy this icy treat? Why, sandwiched between a sweet buttery brioche of course…for breakfast. Now that’s a breakfast sandwich.
FRUTTI DI MARE
You are surrounded by the sea, which means you must indulge in the plentiful fruits of the sea. Go early to the fish markets and gawk at the catch of the day. And then get your mangia on. Dine like a Sicilian and try some marinated sardines, progress to succulent mussels over linguine, and sink your teeth into some meaty swordfish.
This “Must-Eat” list was published on Fodor’s travel blog on May 22, 2012.