Cuisine, gastronomy and drinks Sicily
Cuisine and gastronomy
Renowned for its refinement, Sicilian cuisine has developed by adding and mixing culinary traditions of the different peoples who have succeeded in Sicily. Poor, country cuisine is often compared to that of the palate, but nowadays the ingredients are essentially the same.
- pasta, like the pasta con le sarde (with sardines), ai ricci (with sea urchins), ai masculini (very small anchovies), con pesto di pistacchio e gamberi (pistachio and shrimp pesto), obviously occupy a place of choice.
By way ofantipasti, we also find fried artichokes, capelli (kinds of pancakes), parmigiana (an aubergine gratin with parmesan), caponata (a kind of ratatouille with capers) and the eternal insalata di mare, which often gives pride of place to octopus and celery.
Sicilians also eat rice : the risotti with shellfish and fish are famous, not to mention the arancini, rice balls stuffed with vegetables, meat or cheese, the size of a small orange - as their name suggests -, that the 'we eat on the go.
Finally, from the semolina couscous (a legacy of the Arab occupation) and vegetables: broccoli, wild asparagus, eggplant, celery ... not to mention the condiments: capers, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.
Sicilian culinary specialties
- The fish : the Sicilians could not ignore fish and seafood. They are the majority on the menus and menus of restaurants on the coast, before meats. The fish couscous is often present in the menus of the west coast (African Sicily), but also in Catania.
- Meats are often seasoned with hot sauces. Try the opulent stuffed veal farsumagru and varied polpettoni (meatloaf); we also eat lamb (castrato) and rabbit.
- Cheeses are the same as in the rest of southern Italy: provolone (a cow's cheese with spun pastry, which we recognize in its oval shape), caciocavallo (the "cheese on horseback", sold in pairs arranged astride a wooden stick), ricotta (soft sheep's cheese), bocconcini (“small bites” of mozzarella) and pecorino (which in Sicily plays the role of parmesan).
We owe a lot in this area to the Arabs.
La fruit-shaped pât frutta martorana) occupies a prominent place, as do the candied citrus fruits.
Unmissable pastry, the cassata traditional is made with pan di Spagna (a kind of sponge cake) cut into discs, which we garnish with ricotta, candied fruit, chocolate, and which we cover or not with icing. Very rich and, honestly, a bit sickening if you're not used to it.
Another classic, the cannoli come in the form of small cylinders of fried dough filled with ricotta, chocolate or pastry cream.
Less known: the Amaretti biscuits (almond macaroons), aniseed sfinci (kinds of soft donuts), biancomangiare (an almond milk jelly), agnelli pasquali and ternello di Sicilia (artisanal pistachio nougat sold in the markets).
Also noteworthy are the strange votive or traditional cakes for religious festivals such as Agatha's breasts eaten in Catania to celebrate the saint ...
And then how to talk about dolci without mentioning gelati (ice) so famous and excellent granite?
- See also food and drink in Italy.
Wine has been made in Italy since Antiquity! Greek, Roman, and then Etruscan settlers, all of them devoted themselves to it with passion, but it was in medieval times that viticulture took an important place around the great abbeys. Year after year, Italy confirms its position as the world's leading producer with nearly 43 million hectoliters per year ; in permanent competition with France!
Italian viticulture is based on 3 types of appellations.
- - IGT (Indicazione geografica tipica) designate good quality local wines corresponding to a simple geographical indication.
- - DOC (Denominazione di origin controllata; the equivalent of our PDO) are appellations of controlled origin that guarantee compliance with fairly restrictive production rules. As a result, some producers, who wish to free themselves from it, sometimes market high quality wines under the simple name of table wines ... more than 300 DOCs in Italy, 23 of which come from Sicily.
- As for the prestigious DOCG (Denominazione di origin controllata e Garantita), they are subject to even more stringent regulations. His Sicily has only one DOCG : the Cerasuolo di Vittoria (province of Ragusa).
The different types of wines in Sicily
The annual wine production in Sicily is 8 million hectoliters per year. The vineyard covers 180 ha. Sicilian wine seems to be one of the oldest in the world.
If systematic quality control is fairly recent and winemaking techniques are not yet always perfectly mastered, the 2000s saw an explosion of small quality productions.
The lands around the east of Sicily, you will find the whites of Donnafugata and the reds cerasuolo and nero d'Avola, very powerful. Near Vittoria, taste the cerasuolo produced organically and dynamically produced by Azienda Agricola Cos, which ages its wines in ... amphorae! The nero d'Avola can be quite uneven.
Don't be surprised if you see a Sicilian adding water to his wine; it is a common practice here (we speak of "lying down")!
Beer, which is however less easily found than on the continent - and the Moretti.
Otherwise, Sicily is no exception to the craft beers which are multiplying here and there. Too bad their prices are often dissuasive.
Everyone knows to say "corrected" ... a little liquor!
Italians drink it standing at the counter, where it is much cheaper than served at the table (especially if it is on the terrace and in a fairly touristy place). In good cafes, it is usually served with a small glass of water (still or sparkling).
Tap water is drinkable, but it is never served in restaurants, where you are always offered mineral water, natural (flat) or frizzante (carbonated; we also say gasata or con gas).
We will give you a funny look if you insist on having a carafe (if you really want to, ask for acqua del rubinetto, but it is rather frowned upon and the best way to be immediately labeled a stingy tourist!) .