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Six Things Only Sicilians Understand About Food

Six Things Only Sicilians Understand About Food

Ah, Sicily. (Yes, I’m completely biased; note the vowels in my last name.)

It’s no surprise Sicilians know a thing or two about food…

Desserts = Heaven

Sicilians respect tasty treats. Other delicacies include cassata (ricotta cheesecake), marzipan, and granita on brioche (think sorbet on a roll — for breakfast!). Genius.

Join the Clean Plate Club

“Mangiare, mangiare!” Eat, eat, eat! Even when you’re full, a plate with food remaining means you didn’t enjoy it. “Why no finish?” is not what you want your server to ask.

Stop everything and eat!

Remember that elementary school acronym, SEAR: stop everything and read? In Sicily, if it’s 2 p.m. and you’re frolicking at the beach, you’re stopping everything to go home for lunch!

The Meal is an Event

Instead of mindless eating in your car or the subway (yuck), Sicilians savor each bite. Lunch and late-night dinners last for hours over a long table with famiglia, laughter, and vino. (Ditch afternoon snacks — no need, nor any room. See above for clean plate club.)

Start, Start!

When you’re served, start eating pronto! No need to wait for others to be served. Whether it’s a pepperoni pizza or savory Mediterranean fish, dig in ASAP.

Go organic

No processed ingredients necessary. Sicilians keep it simple, like a bowl of linguini with freshly crushed tomatoes and pecorino shavings. That’s it. Delete thick gravy (a.k.a. spaghetti sauce) from those cabinets.

Vicki Salemi is a special contributor to The Daily Meal. All photos giphy.com.


Three rustic Italian recipes from The Sicily Cookbook

Hugely popular in Sicily: Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

While only a few kilometres from the rest of Italy, Sicily has a proud heritage distinct from that of the mainland, favouring dishes packed with spices, citrus fruits, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, eggplant and seafood.

The Sicily Cookbook by Sicilian cook, writer and photographer Cettina Vicenzino features three strands of Sicilian cooking – cucina povera (peasant food), cibo di strada (street food), and cucina dei monsu (sophisticated food) – alongside profiles on local chefs and food heroes.

/>The Sicily Cookbook. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

Let your cooking burst with Mediterranean sunshine with these three recipes from the celebrated island.

Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon (Polpette dolci)

Polpette are hugely popular in Sicily and made with all kinds of different ingredients, such as eggplants, ricotta or simply with flavoured fresh breadcrumbs. These sweet polpette are inspired by a recipe from Maria Grammatico in her book Bitter Almonds. She describes that, in the post-war years, polpette dolci were the favourite festive treat served to children at the San Carlo abbey. The nuns certainly bulked out the meat in their polpette with quite a lot of breadcrumbs Maria halved the quantity in her recipe. The raisins used here would have been those that weren't quite good enough for making dessert.

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
  • 700g passata
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Three rustic Italian recipes from The Sicily Cookbook

Hugely popular in Sicily: Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

While only a few kilometres from the rest of Italy, Sicily has a proud heritage distinct from that of the mainland, favouring dishes packed with spices, citrus fruits, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, eggplant and seafood.

The Sicily Cookbook by Sicilian cook, writer and photographer Cettina Vicenzino features three strands of Sicilian cooking – cucina povera (peasant food), cibo di strada (street food), and cucina dei monsu (sophisticated food) – alongside profiles on local chefs and food heroes.

/>The Sicily Cookbook. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

Let your cooking burst with Mediterranean sunshine with these three recipes from the celebrated island.

Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon (Polpette dolci)

Polpette are hugely popular in Sicily and made with all kinds of different ingredients, such as eggplants, ricotta or simply with flavoured fresh breadcrumbs. These sweet polpette are inspired by a recipe from Maria Grammatico in her book Bitter Almonds. She describes that, in the post-war years, polpette dolci were the favourite festive treat served to children at the San Carlo abbey. The nuns certainly bulked out the meat in their polpette with quite a lot of breadcrumbs Maria halved the quantity in her recipe. The raisins used here would have been those that weren't quite good enough for making dessert.

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
  • 700g passata
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Three rustic Italian recipes from The Sicily Cookbook

Hugely popular in Sicily: Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

While only a few kilometres from the rest of Italy, Sicily has a proud heritage distinct from that of the mainland, favouring dishes packed with spices, citrus fruits, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, eggplant and seafood.

The Sicily Cookbook by Sicilian cook, writer and photographer Cettina Vicenzino features three strands of Sicilian cooking – cucina povera (peasant food), cibo di strada (street food), and cucina dei monsu (sophisticated food) – alongside profiles on local chefs and food heroes.

/>The Sicily Cookbook. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

Let your cooking burst with Mediterranean sunshine with these three recipes from the celebrated island.

Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon (Polpette dolci)

Polpette are hugely popular in Sicily and made with all kinds of different ingredients, such as eggplants, ricotta or simply with flavoured fresh breadcrumbs. These sweet polpette are inspired by a recipe from Maria Grammatico in her book Bitter Almonds. She describes that, in the post-war years, polpette dolci were the favourite festive treat served to children at the San Carlo abbey. The nuns certainly bulked out the meat in their polpette with quite a lot of breadcrumbs Maria halved the quantity in her recipe. The raisins used here would have been those that weren't quite good enough for making dessert.

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
  • 700g passata
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Three rustic Italian recipes from The Sicily Cookbook

Hugely popular in Sicily: Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

While only a few kilometres from the rest of Italy, Sicily has a proud heritage distinct from that of the mainland, favouring dishes packed with spices, citrus fruits, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, eggplant and seafood.

The Sicily Cookbook by Sicilian cook, writer and photographer Cettina Vicenzino features three strands of Sicilian cooking – cucina povera (peasant food), cibo di strada (street food), and cucina dei monsu (sophisticated food) – alongside profiles on local chefs and food heroes.

/>The Sicily Cookbook. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

Let your cooking burst with Mediterranean sunshine with these three recipes from the celebrated island.

Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon (Polpette dolci)

Polpette are hugely popular in Sicily and made with all kinds of different ingredients, such as eggplants, ricotta or simply with flavoured fresh breadcrumbs. These sweet polpette are inspired by a recipe from Maria Grammatico in her book Bitter Almonds. She describes that, in the post-war years, polpette dolci were the favourite festive treat served to children at the San Carlo abbey. The nuns certainly bulked out the meat in their polpette with quite a lot of breadcrumbs Maria halved the quantity in her recipe. The raisins used here would have been those that weren't quite good enough for making dessert.

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
  • 700g passata
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Three rustic Italian recipes from The Sicily Cookbook

Hugely popular in Sicily: Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

While only a few kilometres from the rest of Italy, Sicily has a proud heritage distinct from that of the mainland, favouring dishes packed with spices, citrus fruits, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, eggplant and seafood.

The Sicily Cookbook by Sicilian cook, writer and photographer Cettina Vicenzino features three strands of Sicilian cooking – cucina povera (peasant food), cibo di strada (street food), and cucina dei monsu (sophisticated food) – alongside profiles on local chefs and food heroes.

/>The Sicily Cookbook. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

Let your cooking burst with Mediterranean sunshine with these three recipes from the celebrated island.

Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon (Polpette dolci)

Polpette are hugely popular in Sicily and made with all kinds of different ingredients, such as eggplants, ricotta or simply with flavoured fresh breadcrumbs. These sweet polpette are inspired by a recipe from Maria Grammatico in her book Bitter Almonds. She describes that, in the post-war years, polpette dolci were the favourite festive treat served to children at the San Carlo abbey. The nuns certainly bulked out the meat in their polpette with quite a lot of breadcrumbs Maria halved the quantity in her recipe. The raisins used here would have been those that weren't quite good enough for making dessert.

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
  • 700g passata
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Three rustic Italian recipes from The Sicily Cookbook

Hugely popular in Sicily: Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

While only a few kilometres from the rest of Italy, Sicily has a proud heritage distinct from that of the mainland, favouring dishes packed with spices, citrus fruits, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, eggplant and seafood.

The Sicily Cookbook by Sicilian cook, writer and photographer Cettina Vicenzino features three strands of Sicilian cooking – cucina povera (peasant food), cibo di strada (street food), and cucina dei monsu (sophisticated food) – alongside profiles on local chefs and food heroes.

/>The Sicily Cookbook. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

Let your cooking burst with Mediterranean sunshine with these three recipes from the celebrated island.

Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon (Polpette dolci)

Polpette are hugely popular in Sicily and made with all kinds of different ingredients, such as eggplants, ricotta or simply with flavoured fresh breadcrumbs. These sweet polpette are inspired by a recipe from Maria Grammatico in her book Bitter Almonds. She describes that, in the post-war years, polpette dolci were the favourite festive treat served to children at the San Carlo abbey. The nuns certainly bulked out the meat in their polpette with quite a lot of breadcrumbs Maria halved the quantity in her recipe. The raisins used here would have been those that weren't quite good enough for making dessert.

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
  • 700g passata
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Three rustic Italian recipes from The Sicily Cookbook

Hugely popular in Sicily: Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

While only a few kilometres from the rest of Italy, Sicily has a proud heritage distinct from that of the mainland, favouring dishes packed with spices, citrus fruits, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, eggplant and seafood.

The Sicily Cookbook by Sicilian cook, writer and photographer Cettina Vicenzino features three strands of Sicilian cooking – cucina povera (peasant food), cibo di strada (street food), and cucina dei monsu (sophisticated food) – alongside profiles on local chefs and food heroes.

/>The Sicily Cookbook. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

Let your cooking burst with Mediterranean sunshine with these three recipes from the celebrated island.

Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon (Polpette dolci)

Polpette are hugely popular in Sicily and made with all kinds of different ingredients, such as eggplants, ricotta or simply with flavoured fresh breadcrumbs. These sweet polpette are inspired by a recipe from Maria Grammatico in her book Bitter Almonds. She describes that, in the post-war years, polpette dolci were the favourite festive treat served to children at the San Carlo abbey. The nuns certainly bulked out the meat in their polpette with quite a lot of breadcrumbs Maria halved the quantity in her recipe. The raisins used here would have been those that weren't quite good enough for making dessert.

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
  • 700g passata
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Three rustic Italian recipes from The Sicily Cookbook

Hugely popular in Sicily: Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

While only a few kilometres from the rest of Italy, Sicily has a proud heritage distinct from that of the mainland, favouring dishes packed with spices, citrus fruits, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, eggplant and seafood.

The Sicily Cookbook by Sicilian cook, writer and photographer Cettina Vicenzino features three strands of Sicilian cooking – cucina povera (peasant food), cibo di strada (street food), and cucina dei monsu (sophisticated food) – alongside profiles on local chefs and food heroes.

/>The Sicily Cookbook. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

Let your cooking burst with Mediterranean sunshine with these three recipes from the celebrated island.

Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon (Polpette dolci)

Polpette are hugely popular in Sicily and made with all kinds of different ingredients, such as eggplants, ricotta or simply with flavoured fresh breadcrumbs. These sweet polpette are inspired by a recipe from Maria Grammatico in her book Bitter Almonds. She describes that, in the post-war years, polpette dolci were the favourite festive treat served to children at the San Carlo abbey. The nuns certainly bulked out the meat in their polpette with quite a lot of breadcrumbs Maria halved the quantity in her recipe. The raisins used here would have been those that weren't quite good enough for making dessert.

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
  • 700g passata
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Three rustic Italian recipes from The Sicily Cookbook

Hugely popular in Sicily: Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

While only a few kilometres from the rest of Italy, Sicily has a proud heritage distinct from that of the mainland, favouring dishes packed with spices, citrus fruits, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, eggplant and seafood.

The Sicily Cookbook by Sicilian cook, writer and photographer Cettina Vicenzino features three strands of Sicilian cooking – cucina povera (peasant food), cibo di strada (street food), and cucina dei monsu (sophisticated food) – alongside profiles on local chefs and food heroes.

/>The Sicily Cookbook. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

Let your cooking burst with Mediterranean sunshine with these three recipes from the celebrated island.

Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon (Polpette dolci)

Polpette are hugely popular in Sicily and made with all kinds of different ingredients, such as eggplants, ricotta or simply with flavoured fresh breadcrumbs. These sweet polpette are inspired by a recipe from Maria Grammatico in her book Bitter Almonds. She describes that, in the post-war years, polpette dolci were the favourite festive treat served to children at the San Carlo abbey. The nuns certainly bulked out the meat in their polpette with quite a lot of breadcrumbs Maria halved the quantity in her recipe. The raisins used here would have been those that weren't quite good enough for making dessert.

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
  • 700g passata
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Three rustic Italian recipes from The Sicily Cookbook

Hugely popular in Sicily: Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

While only a few kilometres from the rest of Italy, Sicily has a proud heritage distinct from that of the mainland, favouring dishes packed with spices, citrus fruits, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, eggplant and seafood.

The Sicily Cookbook by Sicilian cook, writer and photographer Cettina Vicenzino features three strands of Sicilian cooking – cucina povera (peasant food), cibo di strada (street food), and cucina dei monsu (sophisticated food) – alongside profiles on local chefs and food heroes.

/>The Sicily Cookbook. Photo: Cettina Vicenzino

Let your cooking burst with Mediterranean sunshine with these three recipes from the celebrated island.

Sweet meatballs with almonds and cinnamon (Polpette dolci)

Polpette are hugely popular in Sicily and made with all kinds of different ingredients, such as eggplants, ricotta or simply with flavoured fresh breadcrumbs. These sweet polpette are inspired by a recipe from Maria Grammatico in her book Bitter Almonds. She describes that, in the post-war years, polpette dolci were the favourite festive treat served to children at the San Carlo abbey. The nuns certainly bulked out the meat in their polpette with quite a lot of breadcrumbs Maria halved the quantity in her recipe. The raisins used here would have been those that weren't quite good enough for making dessert.

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
  • 700g passata
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper