Sicily’s complex history has left its mark in architecture, landscapes, culture, and customs. But nowhere is it more evident than in the food.
Greeks brought grapes and olives and introduced the incumbent population to wine making.
Romans introduced fava beans, chick peas, lentils and some forms of pasta and devoted huge areas of previously forested land to grain production.
Arabs brought almonds, aniseed, apricots, artichokes, cinnamon, oranges, pistachio, pomegranates, saffron, sesame, spinach, sugarcane, water melon and rice.
They introduced many tastes that are now considered typically Sicilian, including the sweet and sour combinations of raisins and pine-nuts with vegetables and fish that form the basis of several common dishes.
They also started a long Sicilian love affair with sweets, including ice cream and granita (made with snow from Etna and other mountains), marzipan and candied fruits. Arabs also introduced the most advanced farming and irrigation techniques and distilled grape must to create grappa.
Normans and Hoenstaufen brought some of their northern European innovations including the rotating skewer for cooking meat and air salting of fish. The French who followed them brought a legacy of chefs for the aristocracy.
Apart from putting the final touches to sweet specialities such as the Cassata, the Spanish brought many vital ingredients of today’s Sicilian diet. The New World provided chilli and sweet peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and maize and all of these were incorporated into existing recipes so that they would now be unimaginable without them.
Today, you will eat very well all over Sicily. One telling characteristic is that you will rarely eat anything that has not been produced within a few miles of where you are sitting. The freshest fish on the coast, the tastiest meats and cheeses in the interior and a huge range of vegetables, fruits and fungi, all with a richness of flavour that you just don’t find at the supermarket!
Whether you prefer the traditional fare of the simplest local trattoria, or the more sophisticated and elaborate dishes on offer in a range of modern restaurants all over the island, such is the pride that Sicilians take in their cooking that you will rarely be disappointed. We leave a comprehensive list of recommended restaurants at all our properties and if you come on a tailored escorted holiday you will eat at a selection of them.
- Olive Oil
- Street Market
- Typical Foods