SICILY 2 - A GASTRONOMIC GUIDE

BOTH REBECCA AND HER HUSBAND ARE KEEN COOKS, SO NO SURPRISE AT THEIR DELIGHT IN DISCOVERING SICILIAN CUISINE...

This second installment of our trip to Sicily focuses on its gastronomy: While we were in Palermo, we decided to explore the various markets, starting with the Mercato Del Capo which proved to have many choices in the way of typical Sicilian delicacies. The Palermo markets have been credited with being the place where street food originated. While take away squid and various fried local food were fantastic choices, we wanted a place to sit down for a while.
Fried pizzette, fritelle with fish and herbs 
Fried bread and fried potato balls
We settled on a place that seemed to be very local -Trattoria Mariucciu. The restaurant had outdoor seating right around the corner from the main market street and one man who, took our orders, cooked our food and served us. We had a quiet lunch of typical Sicilian dishes, surrounded by local Palermitani.
Grilled eggplant, sun dried tomatoes, tuna salad and caponata (a cooked Sicilian mix of vegetables with a base of eggplant).
As we explored the city we came to understand that there were recurring elements in the cooking of the area.
A staple of many Italian summer meals is the caprese salad which although supposed to have originated on the Isle of Capri, has permeated the whole Italian peninsula
At the restaurant La Galleria, near the Palermo Cathedral we in fact tried the caprese salad.
Sliced tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, fresh basil, drizzled extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper. If you wish you can drizzle some aged balsamic vinegar to add to the flavor.
This was followed by  some of the freshest seafood that you will ever taste.
We opted for the Zuppa di Pesce (seafood soup). This, we should say, has as many interpretations as cooks, but we can tell you that the base is usually tomato, garlic spices and herbs. The fish included is whatever is fresh, in our case mussels, clams, shrimp small white fish and squid.
We also tried a seafood salad which was a wonder to behold...
...and a whole fish cooked in a tomato, caper and olive sauce. 
As we moved on to the eastern Coast of Sicily, we found ourselves in Catania, Siracusa, Ragusa where we were introduced to wonderful flavors that have found their way into the Sicilian cusine.
I will not name all of the restaurants that we visited but will show a few of the incredible dishes that we sampled.
Although we are probably all familiar with pesto sauce, usually Pesto alla Genovese which traditionally consists of crushed garlic, European pine nuts, coarse salt, basil leaves, and grated hard cheese, we sampled pesto with a twist. In our version, Busiate - a twisty long pasta - was coated with a traditional pesto with clams added.
We later tried a traditional pesto ‘alla Trapanese’, originating in Trapani, which included almonds instead of pine nuts, garlic, basil, tomatoes, olive oil and salt and pepper. The resulting dish was an excellent mix of herby, oily, salty, nutty, tomato sauce covered pasta that I am still trying to replicate.
While you are in Siracusa be sure to stop in to the market where you can experience the local street food of  fresh oysters and champagne or you can stop in to one of the little seafood bars and sample some of the appetizers as we did. Here you can see a plate of local marinated anchovies, a salad of anchovies, oranges and fresh fennel, and slices of octopus loaf with pistachios and lemon juice.
As we ended our trip in Catania, we couldn’t leave without having what seems to be the symbol of the ‘cucina Catanese’  – Pasta Alla Norma. The origins of the dish is attributed to the city of Catania and is named, in a fashion, after Norma, a character in an opera by Vincenzo Bellini.
There are two versions of the story, the first, a Sicilian writer, Nino Martoglio exclaimed, ‘This is a real Norma!’ - meaning a masterpiece - when he tasted the dish.
Another story declares that the dish was made for the opening night of the opera, Norma.
Regardless of the origins, the dish has remained a favorite throughout Sicily and has found its way in to my kitchen as well.
Bringing our tour of Sicily to a close, I have to say something about the desserts.
We were able to sample the characteristic hand-made chocolate of Modica which we found to be rich and different from any other chocolate we have ever tried. It is ground by hand and has a peculiar grainy texture and aromatic flavor.
We also tried cannoli that were as big as your hand in some cases and Babà al Rum both with and without whipped cream filling. In the town of Aci Reale we discovered that the specialty there is Babà with granita (Italian ice). All versions were exceptional!
And last but not least, should you find yourself in Sicily, you cannot leave without trying a Sicilian Cassata cake. The Filling is made of sweetened ricotta usually filled with candied fruit and or chocolate chips. It is glazed with an amazingly sweet icing and is highly decorated in most cases.
If I had to describe the flavors of Sicily I would have to say that the food reflects the area in a way that is flavorful and memorable.  Fresh seafood, local vegetables and fruits, spices and herbs that give a hint of the people who once occupied the island as well as the land itself.
Rebecca Ghezzi, 14/09/2022 11:01:30
Other articles that might interest you
Although once you get to Cortona, you very well may want to stay put, there are many places that are ...[continue]
Portonovo is a tranquil beach resort on the Adriatic coast, just a few kilometres south of Ancona and situated in the ...[continue]
A trip to Passignano, on the northern shore of Lake Trasimeno – Italy’s fourth largest lake - makes for a great ...[continue]
Owing to COVID travel restrictions, I’d been deprived of the chance to visit our family’s little corner of Tuscan heaven at ...[continue]
A quick 45-minute drive from Polignano al Mare brought us to Ostuni, known as the White City due to the ...[continue]

SOMETHING
TO SHARE ?

Send us your posts, viewpoints
and/or personal experiences
CONTACT US NOW

MY CORTONA

OUR BLOG IS INTENDED AS A CENTRAL HUB FOR CORTONA LOVERS WORLD-WIDE, BRINGING YOU USEFUL INFORMATION, PROFILES OF THE MANY INTERESTING PEOPLE WHO LIVE & VISIT THE TOWN, UP-DATES ON LOCAL NEWS, SPECIAL STORIES & UPCOMING EVENTS


Have a story or an anecdote to recount? Someone interesting you’d like to profile? A place you’ve visited that you’d like to recommend? Whether it’s useful, funny or informative, why not share it on My Cortona blog and add your name to our list of regular contributors? We’d love to hear from you.

VILLA SAMBUCO

Price: €.1.780.000

HOUSE OF FRESCOES

Price: €.360.000

CASA DI LEO

Price: €.490.000