Cuisine of Sicily

The cuisine of Sicily shows traces of all the cultures which established themselves on the island over the last two millennia.

For example, the use of apricots, sugar, citrus, sweet melons, rice, saffron, raisins, nutmeg, clove, pepper, pine nuts, cinnamon (along with fried preparations) is a sign of Arab influences from the Arab domination of Sicily in the 10th and 11th centuries.

Normans and Hohenstaufen influences are also found, such as in the fondness for meat dishes, such as Bruscialoni. Later, the Spanish introduced numerous items from the New World, including cocoa, maize, turkey, and tomatoes and other produce. In Catania, on the east coast, initially settled by Greek colonists, fish, olives, broad beans, and fresh vegetables are preferred instead. Much of the island's cuisine encourages the use of fresh vegetables such as eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes, and fish such as tuna, sea bream, sea bass, cuttlefish, and swordfish. In Trapani in the extreme western corner of the island, North African influences are clear in the use of couscous.

Well-known dishes from Sicily include arancini (a form of deep-fried rice croquettes), Pasta alla Norma (a specialty of Catania), caponata, pani ca meusa (Palermo) and couscous al pesce (Trapani). Sweets are another specialty; examples include: frutta martorana, pignolata, buccellato, cannolo siciliano, granita, and cassata siciliana).

Sicily has a number of unique citrus fruits used in their cuisine. Many were first introduced by the Arabs from the 9th to 11th centuries, but some have been brought more recently to the region as well such as the Washington navel from Brazil. Below several examples of the citrus fruits one can find in Sicily.

  • Biondo commune - the "common blonde" orange
  • Ovale - ripens between April and May, with a compact flesh
  • Sanguigno comune - common blood orange harvested between January and April
  • Washington navel - introduced from Brazil during the 1940s-1950s, grown chiefly near Ribera and Sciacca and harvested from November to January
  • Sanguinella - bitter orange of the blood orange variety, found in Paternò Santa Maria di Licodia, Palagonia, Scordia and Francofonte during January until April
  • Tarocco - high quality blood orange found in Catania, Siracusa and Francofonte from November to January
  • Tarocco dal muso - bell shaped orange found in Francofonte
  • Valencia - similar to the Ovale and used often in confectionary items
  • Moro - crimson colored flesh found in Lentini, Scordia, and Francofonte from mid-January until the end of April
  • Comune - common variety of the mandarin orange
  • Tardivo ciaculli - a second variety of the mandarin orange found in Sicily
  • Femminello - the lemon that makes up 80% of Sicily's lemon crop, sound in Catania, Siracusa, Messina and Palermo
  • Monachello - "little monk'' lemon harvested from October from March and able to withstand drought better that the Ferrminello
  • Verdello - a lime that grows particularly well and is harvested from May to September


Works cited

  • Piras, Claudia and Medagliani, Eugenio. Culinaria Italy. Cologne: Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft mbh, 2000.

See also

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