foods in sicily (2)

5 foods in Sicily you must try

Foods in Sicily are a passion reflecting the land, the sea, and the sun as well as all the invaders that have occupied the island over the past two millennia.

One of my favourite books is Tomasi di Lampedusa the Leopard’ about the social and political unrest leading up to the unification of Italy. The novel also describes a sumptuous Sicilian meal of the 19th century:

“Beneath the candelabra, beneath the five tiers bearing toward the ceiling pyramids of homemade cakes that were never touched, spread the monotonous opulence of buffets at big balls: coralline lobsters boiled alive, waxy chaud-froids of veal, steely-tinted fish immersed in sauce, turkeys gilded by the ovens’ heat, rosy foie gras under gelatin armor, boned woodcock reclining on amber toast decorated with their own chopped insides, and a dozen other cruel, coloured delights.”

I am not sure you can still find gluttony like this – or that anyone would want to – but here are a few Sicilian specialties that should not be missed.

Sicilian street food
For some reason Sicily has a rich and inventive street food tradition, and I am personally willing to walk far down narrow streets to find the best golden fried race balls known as arancini di riso or the deep fried chickpea fritters panella

Anything melanzane
I don’t think I have ever been to a Sicilian restaurant that did not have Pasta alla Norma and in general Sicilians are very good at making the most of aubergine/eggplant.   Just try their ciambotta, parmigiana or carponata. Dishes that could make me convert to vegetarianism.

foods in sicily

Inimitable seafood
Being an island with access to three seas Sicily has proud traditions for catching and preparing fish and seafood. Adventurous eaters might want to try the spaghetti with sea urchins (ricci) or boiled octopus (polpo bollito), but you could also settle for a fresh and juicy tuna or sword fish steak.

Pyramids of homemade cakes
The pyramids of homemade cakes mentioned by Tomaso di Lampedusa must include cannoli and cassata along with the traditional marzipan sweets known as ‘frutta martorana’  coloured and shaped to look exactly like real fruit or pastoral animals.

The inventors of ice cream
The Sicilian tradition for making ice cream can be traced back to the 9th century, long before the invention of artificial cooling. It is said that meandering Arabs introduced a technique for making sorbet or sherbet by mixing fruit juice or honey with ice from the mountains, but it took them several centuries to work out methods for the transportation of sorbet from Mount Etna to and to cafes and ice cream parlours. However, the crushed ice sorbet granite (made with fruit juice) or gremolate (made with fruit pulp) is still a refreshing Sicilian specialty whether it is mixed with coffee, lemon, oranges or green mint syrup.

Apart from 5 foods in Sicily you might also want to try

A Palermo market taste of the Orient

Greek temples in Sicily

Sitting on a cloud sipping Marsala wine

14 replies
  1. Sophie
    Sophie says:

    I was given sea urchins in Sicily once. Still remember the little creature slowly moving along the plate. That very nearly turned me vegetarian. Better with the frutta martorana :)

    Reply
  2. Mary {The World Is A Book}
    Mary {The World Is A Book} says:

    I was thinking my favorites here would have to be the seafood or desserts. Until you mentioned spaghetti with sea urchins. That certainly sounds interesting. I think I’ll stick to the ice cream and homemade cakes. Those sound delicious!

    Reply
  3. Maria
    Maria says:

    Oh wow! Thanks for the list but where to start? #1? But number 3 sounds like a great a place to begin, then again so does #5 and work backward. Mmmmmm. :-D

    Reply
  4. Kate Bailward
    Kate Bailward says:

    Yes! And – as if anyone needed any explanation – *this* is a major reason why I’m ‘Siciliana nel cuore’. That and the fact that the food is so deliciously fresh. I’m currently in love with the potatoes grown in Giarre, just down the road from me in Catania. There’s something about that volcanic soil that does amazing things to the taste of even the simplest of foods.

    Reply
  5. TheTuscan
    TheTuscan says:

    I’ve had all of them.
    According to the friend who let me eat all the above-mentioned specialties, they have a particular type of aubergin that, although less tasty when eaten alone, is particularly suitable for the Pasta alla Norma, since it doesn’t get so much soaked with oil in pan. I can’t find anything about that in the Internet, but I tend to believe her…

    Reply
  6. Gabriele
    Gabriele says:

    Your article is very usefull for who don’t know Sicily.
    I think that we just add others products, such as typical agricoltur food: “fichi d’india”, lemons, red oranges, tomatos “pachino”, the cheese, very famous those made in Ragusa…and of couse the wine: Nero d’Avola and Cerasuolo di Vittoria are probably the most famous.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Foods in Sicily are a passion reflecting the land, the sea, and the sun as well as all the invaders that have occupied the island over the past two millennia.  […]

  2. […] Foods in Sicily are a passion reflecting the land, the sea, and the sun as well as all the invaders that have occupied the island over the past two millennia. One of my favourite books is Tomasi di Lampedusa ‘the Leopard’ about the social and political unrest leading up to the unification of Italy. The novel also describes a sumptuous Sicilian meal of the 19th century: “Beneath the candelabra, beneath the five tiers bearing toward the ceiling pyramids of homemade cakes that were never touched, spread the monotonous opulence of buffets at big balls: coralline lobsters boiled alive, waxy chaud-froids of veal, steely-tinted fish immersed in sauce, turkeys gilded by the ovens’ heat, rosy foie gras under gelatin armor, boned woodcock reclining on amber toast decorated with their own chopped insides, and a dozen other cruel, coloured delights.” I am not sure you can still find gluttony like this – or that anyone would want to – but here are a few Sicilian specialties that should not be missed.  […]

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