How to Eat Your Way Through Sicily
“See that over there?” asks our guide on Mt. Etna, pointing toward a hazy patch of land across the water. “That’s Italy,” he says. With hands now held reverently over the black volcanic rocks and stones at our feet, he remarks, “This is Sicily. There, Italy. Here, Sicily.” At this point we’d been in Sicily for a week and knew, while standing in the shadow of Mama Etna, that he spoke the truth: Sicily is not the same as Italy.
You can learn a lot about a culture from their food, of course, and what had we learned about Sicily at this point? That its history was long and varied, more than most of Europe. That it had once been Phoenicia, Greece, Rome, Arabia, France, Spain and finally Italian and still holds the influences of them all. After millennia of belonging to an ever-changing roster of countries, what has remained the same is that the people of Sicily and their food are Sicilian first and always, with the land and seasons as their guide.
So how do you eat your way through Sicily? I recommend starting in the chaotic but charming city of Palermo for some great street food like arancini; wind your way south through the baroque villages of Modica, Ragusa & Noto for farm-to-table cuisine (and chocolate!) that pre-dates the trend; eat all the tiny and big fish available on the coasts; have a sandwich at the market in Ortigia; drink nothing but local wine (minerally Mt. Etna whites & earthy Cerasuelo di Vittoria reds) because you won’t want anything else; eat as many orange and fennel salads as possible; try your hand at making cavatelli pasta, and always take the cannoli.
Morgan, April 2022