A season in Sicily

Sicily is one of those places in the world that the mixture of cultures, along the centuries, created their own, unique lifestyle, language, tradition, and, of course, food. Sicilians don’t consider themselves completely Italians. Yes, they are part of the Republic, but they are autonomous. They speak Italian only with Italians, among themselves they speak Sicilian (what would you expect?).

They have their own volcano, the Etna, that if you climb it resembles the landscape a black moon, but take a light jacket with you, even on the hottest summer, because the temperature up there can be 15° C lower than at sea level. Greek Legends are all around, Homero’s cyclops takes place here. And of course, the Greeks also left a theater in Taormina.


For me, the quintessential Sicilian breakfast is simple: a cannolo and a cappuccino. Now, here, a little lesson of Italian grammar: cannolo is in singular, “one cannolo“. Cannoli is in plural: “two cannoli“. That been said, the traditional deep fried crusty golden pastry little pipe, stuffed with sweet ricotta, that comes garnished either with pistachio or chocolate chips just delicious. Still, my favorite is when to comes with a sugarcoated orange peel.

There are several places were to have them in Taormina, in fact every single pasticceria will make them good. Is a matter of pride. Still, be aware that cannoli are made in the mornings, so if you ask for one in the afternoon, check that they fill them with the ricotta when you order them, if not, the dough gets soggy. In the west of the island, the recipe calls for a light coat of chocolate inside to prevent this, but I haven’t had the chance to taste them… yet!


A traditional ingredient from Sicily is eggplant or aubergine. Sicilians love their eggplants and they mastered their traditional recipes to make them with very simple fresh ingredients, but beyond tasty. One of the traditional antipasti is parmigiana (no need to call it “eggplant parmigiana”, parmigiana is enough). Is a recipe that has eggplant sliced and fried (in extra-virgin olive oil, of course), tomato sauce and arranged like a lasagna, topped of with a savory cheese, parmesan or not, baked, and served either in the skillet if was made in individual servings, or just as lasagna.

The other traditional way eat eggplant in Sicily is the caponata. The “capunata” (in Sicilian) is a cooked vegetable salad with fried eggplant, celery, bell-peppers, capers and other ingredients that change depending where in the island are you on.

La pasta

Among the many cultures that were in Sicily, the arabs left a deep trace in the local tradition. The brought the citric, being the most popular, of course, the lemon. And Sicilians put lemon to everything, even the pasta! I have to be honest: I saw in many places in the world where they mix a traditional, typical ingredient of the region in eclectic recipes, just to make a point about their traditions, like deep-fried oreo cookies in the Miami State Fair, some other weird mixtures done for the tourists. When I was offered a pasta with lemon sauce, my tastebuds were asking me:


The recipe was with linguini, creamy, with some pecorino cheese, lemon juice and some lemon wedges, sprinkled with pistachio. Probably not from the “Sicilian Grandmother’s Old Time Recipes Book”, but a decent balanced taste. The other pasta, that it is a very traditional one, was penne alla Norma. This dish calls for a small dried pasta, like penne, with tomato sauce, eggplant (we are in Sicily…) and sprinkled with baked salty ricotta! This was for me an amazing finding and became one of my newest all-time-favorites.

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