5 things you need to know about Sicilian cuisine

Soccer, politics, food; ask a Sicilian what their day is composed of and there’s a good chance these are the things you’ll hear. It isn’t a surprice that is food is a key ingredient in the recipe that makes up a Sicilian day; the region is one where geography, geology, and culture intersect in an almost perfect way. Our Authentica Siciliana pasta sauce calls Sicily home, and to honour its heritage we’ve put together a quick introduction to Sicilian cuisine with five things you should know about this region and the flavours it has created.

5. Sicilian cuisine has History – with a capital H.

There’s a reason why food is so ingrained in Sicilian culture; dating back past 700 B.C. Sicily has borne a cornucopia of different foodstuffs from agriculture and viticulture. Grapes, figs, walnuts, and wheat have been staples for thousands of years. Under the Roman Empire Sicily became the granary that fed people across the empire’s command thanks to the cultivation of hard durum wheat. Many believe that this durum wheat is the key to Sicily’s delicious pastas.

4. The tastes of Sicily are the result of cultures coming together.

Famously Sicily has been fertile ground not just for the food growing in it, but for the myriad of cultures who have called the space home. Beginning with influence from Greek flavours, Sicilian tastes have integrated flavours from the Romans, Arabs, French, and Spanish cultures.  Over 1200 years ago Saracen troops landed on the coast, bringing with them new cash crops and new tastes; the Arab influence on Sicilian cuisine was immediate and exciting. Stuffed foods, pistachio nuts, and the emergence of one-dish meals were the result.

Tastes from Spain and the New World were later integrated, including a new dedication to both chocolate and the tomato.

3. The seaside brings a bounty.

It’s no surprise that the coastline plays a serious role in sourcing the base of many Sicilian dishes. Swordfish is a common staple, with tuna, octopus, and bonito (a smaller relative of tuna) all playing their parts. The usual presentation? Involtini, where the fish is pounded into a flat fillet, wrapped in a stuffing of breadcrumbs and herbs.

2. Sicily brings a different take on ricotta.

Sicily’s reputation for fresh ricotta is well-earned, with a slightly unique spin: unlike the cow’s-milk ricotta found commonly in North America, Sicilian ricotta is frequently made with goat’s milk, and can be aged to make a sharp pecorino.

1. Simple, light, tasty, and beautiful: that’s the Sicilian way.

The idea of super-rich, heavy Italian cuisine  called cucina nobile — can be a bit daunting sometimes; Sicilian cuisine has a much different angle. Cucina povera — literally “peasant food”—is focused on combining food in a beautiful, simple way. These simple combinations allow for a more focused palate, where nuances in flavour are more easily emphasized. The unique combinations that hail from Sicily can make for exciting, easy-to-create dishes; olives and lemons, eggplant and breadcrumbs, raisins and pine nuts— all of these flavours engage each other effortlessly… and can taste delicious when made into a dish with Authentica Siciliana pasta sauce.

Naturally we want you to find your way to new Sicilian flavours with Authentica, but the region is so rich in history and tastes that we hope you’re inspired to try something deliciously Sicilian today!

Sources:

 http://www.umass.edu/journal/sicilyprogram/sicilianfoodhistory.html

https://www.butterfield.com/blog/2015/10/07/cuisine-101-a-brief-introduction-to-sicilian-cuisine/

https://vancouversun.com/news/staff-blogs/a-sicily-food-tour

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/food-trends/why-sicilian-cuisine-is-the-next-big-thing-out-of-italy/article4210427/

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