Sicily is one of the little jewels on Earth boasting miles and miles of pristine beaches flanked by turquoise seas; volcanic mountains point to the sky and some of the richest histories in the Med can be found here. Furthermore, Sicily brags about its unique cuisine which is perhaps the biggest drawcard.
Sicily is best known for its abundance of citrus fruit – most notably tarocco blood oranges and its tomatoes, pistachio nuts, almonds, olives, brinjals, olive oil and grapes. A special point of interest is that Sicily is the world’s third-largest wine-producing area.
Sicily is also famous for its wonderful sausages and cheeses and because it is an island, there is plenty of fish to enjoy. This is freshly caught each day, forming an important component of Sicilian cuisine. Cooking techniques differ vastly to that of the mainland.
By the time Sicily joined the Kingdom of Italy in 1861, the local culture (and food) was so heavily influenced by past cultures, that it was always going to stand out. Visitors to Sicily enjoy a vast array of history peppered with plenty of flavours.
Sicily and Pasta
Sicilians love dry pasta, with a favourite appearing on Sicilian tables throughout the region where the short, tubular variety (penne or longer pasta such as spaghetti and bucatini) make an appearance.
Historians believe that the Arabs showed the Sicilians the art of drying pasta as far back as the 8th century and that between 1000 and 1100 AD the Sicilians were making strands of pasta in vast quantities – enough to export. One of the oldest words known for pasta is “maccaronne”. Derived from the Sicilian, “maccare”, which, when translated, means to crush grain to make flour.
Pesto Sauce Sicilian style:
Although Pesto Sauce is a delicacy found in the North of Italy in Liguria, Sicily boasts having its very own version. This Pesto Sauce is most often found in Trapani where cooks grind together almonds, basil, garlic, tomatoes and Pecorino cheese to create a pesto-like sauce which is traditionally served with a local pasta, Busiate, which is not dissimilar to Fusilli (in appearance it looks a little like a winding telephone cord).
Pasta Alla Norma
Pasta Alla Norma is perhaps the most famous of all pasta dishes that hails from Sicily. The name is derived from the famous nineteenth-century opera and both are viewed as being true masterpieces. It would not surprise any Sicilian mamma if diners ate this delectable delight, then sang an aria afterwards in sheer appreciation! Pasta Alla Norma hails from Catania on the east coast of Sicily. This is where this most famous pasta dish is served with great relish and is one of the most prominent and possibly best representations of Sicilian cuisine. The dish is made from local aubergines, garlic, basil, tomatoes and ricotta Salata (salted ricotta).
Although Sicilian cuisine is Italian on many fronts, there are definite African, Greek, Spanish, French and Arab influences.