Don’t Ask. Just Eat.
Written by Katherine June 9, 2015
Cassata, Panelle & Arancine- Oh My!
Culture can be made up of many things, but food plays a key role in the perception of visitors. As a visitor of Sicily this weekend, I fell in love with their culture and their food. Even though Sicily is still apart of Italy, the cuisine has a unique and tasty spin to the standard pasta and pizza. Street food, breakfast and sweet treats are all unique to the area and cannolis are guaranteed at almost every meal. Our B&B host cultured us on Sicilian food and gave us a lesson on how to eat like a Sicilian.
Eating in Sicily, I was curious as to why the food was so much different. Yes, there is still spaghetti and pizza and typical Italian dishes, but the “zing” of Sicilian food makes it that much more scrumptious! I learned that Sicilian food has roots in Italy, but has been greatly influenced by Greek, Spanish and Arab cultures. The first cookbook was created in the 5th Century B.C. by a Sicilian cook how took his knowledge into Greece and that created a channel of connections between the food coinsurers. Apricots, sugar, citrus, melons, rice and raisins are all the Arab staples found in Sicilian food, while Spain added cocoa and tomatoes. Greece contributed olives, fish and pistachio, commonly found in Sicilian dishes.
In Sicily, cannolis are everything. They were created in Palermo, Sicily and can be traced to the Arabs during the times that Sicily was an Emirate. These fried pastry tubes filled with ricotta cheese and decorated with cherries, chocolate chips, or Sicilian orange garnishes can be found on every street corner and should be thoroughly enjoyed on your journey.
Another dish that can be found on the street is an arancine. This fried rice ball can be filled with meat, cheese & veggies. The name is very similar to the Italian word for orange, and directly translated it means “little orange”, and the arancine looks like one too! This yummy meal can be enjoyed walking the streets, or sitting on Mondello Beach, either way the portable ball of rice and meat is filling and easy to take on any adventure.
These foods are just two examples of the cultural representation of Sicily, but the history of rich tastes and local delicacies can be found in any country you visit. In Cinque Terre, we had lemons. In Amsterdam, Dutch tea and pancakes. Waffles in Belgium and so much more! Be adventurous in your travels, not just in your activities, but in your food! Ask your waiter what his or her favorite dish is, or where your cab driver would go to eat on a Friday night. There is no shame in snapping pictures of your plate, trying your friends dish, or ordering a second dessert. Food is essential to life, so make sure that while you travel live it to the fullest. Enjoy your travels, gobble up the culture and when in doubt- don’t ask, just eat!