I can never turn down some of the finest mouth-watering Sicilian dishes when they are presented to me. They don’t have to be served in a restaurant where fine dining is on offer however. It could equally be street food that turns my head, as is the case with arancini, the secrets of which I’ll reveal to you in a moment.
One of the many beauties of Sicily lies in its rich culinary history, a history that has grown and developed through the ages and resulted in the tempting treats we have today. Let me share some of these with you now.
What hides inside arancini?
The truth is you can never be sure. This is a practical, easy to eat snack you’ll find sold in cafes around Sicily as well as on street corners. Essentially they are balls of rice that have been covered in breadcrumbs. They are then fried until cooked and presented to the customer to try and eat slowly! Believe me this is the hardest part!
Traditionally they contain a ragu but in some cases, you’ll find mozzarella oozing out upon biting into them, and in others, you might also find peas. If you travel around Sicily you may notice the arancini changing as you go, since different areas present their own twist on the tasty snack.
Pasta Alla Norma
Is there a signature dish that would identify Sicily in a way no other really could? I think perhaps pasta alla norma would fill this role. It is certainly a classic and one that is meat-free too. It features a light tomato sauce with ricotta and basil, and fried slices of aubergine. Finished with basil, it has an eye-catching look – but I think the taste is even better.
A fresh take on something rather familiar
I cannot possibly write about food from Sicily without including one of my favourite sweets. You may be familiar with marzipan already; well, the Sicilians have gone one better with frutta Martorana. Not only does it sound particularly delectable, it looks quite divine too. Each small piece of marzipan is shaped and worked to make it look like a perfect piece of fruit. Look closely and you will even see stems and leaves added to complete the illusion!
Sardines, sardines and more sardines
Fish is easy to get in Sicily and sardines regularly feature on the menu. One dish I would like to highlight for you is pasta con le sarde, which you can probably make out as pasta with sardines. This description surely does not do it justice, however, since the finished result is quite divine. Some would call this the national dish, but whether you agree with this or not there are variations as you travel across the island. However, expect to see bucatini pasta served with fresh sardines and another popular and easy to get ingredient in Sicily – fennel.
This is a mere taster of just some of the dishes you can look forward to on a trip to Sicily. Are there any dishes you have enjoyed on the island in the past, or any you are looking forward to trying in the future?