Arancine (rice balls)
were invented in the tenth century during the Kalbid rule of Sicily. Stuffed with meat and coated with a light, crispy batter, rice balls are similar to foods based on recipes known in the Middle East during the Middle Ages. Their Italian name comes to us from the word for orange (arancia), which they faintly resemble in colour and texture. Nowadays the arancine made in western Sicily are round while those made in eastern Sicily (particularly around Catania) are often conical.
This all seems fairly simple, though preparing arancine (or arancini) well is something of an art. But how did rice arrive in Sicily in the first place? It’s certainly not grown here today. Rice (as well as oranges) was introduced during the Arab period. Of course, rice cultivation requires water. The Arabs built innovative and very efficient irrigation systems in Sicily, but the island was naturally grrener then. The climate was cooler and there were larger forests. There were also more streams that flowed year round (instead of the run-off torrents seen today), navigable rivers and natural lakes. In such an environment the Arabs revolutionised agriculture and introduced crops such as cotton and sugar cane.
The cultivation of rice in Sicily had no connection with rice farming in Piedmont, a sub-alpine region of northern Italy where arborio and other rice varieties are still grown. The introduction of rice in Sicily parallels that in Spain.
Arancina rice is flavoured and coloured with saffron. Though cultivated in antiquity in Greece and Sicily, the widespread use of this yellow spice was more prominent in medieval Arab cuisine, and is used in preparing paella, a Spanish rice dish. (Saffron was also used as a pigment in medieval painting).
Arancine are formed of cooked and flavoured rice shaped around a core of chopped meat filling. The balls are then coated and deep fried to a crisp. Arancini are not the only crispy fried Sicilian food introduced by the Arabs. Pannelle come to mind. These are flat cakes made with ceci flour.
Rice balls are the golden jewel in the crown of Sicilian cuisine.
Few salads epitomize Sicilian cuisine as much as caponata, which probably takes its name from an essential ingredient (though not the principal one), capers. Like so much of Sicilian cuisine, caponata comes to us from the Arabs. Indeed, a case could be made that their contributions to Sicilian food, and to some extent the Sicilian language, are the Arabs’ most enduring legacy in the living culture of twenty-first century Sicily.
There are various recipes for caponata; some include artichokes or sweet peppers. In order of amount, the necessary ingredients are eggplants (aubergines), celery, green olives, tomatoes (a modern addition), onions, capers, virgin olive oil, vinegar, sugar. The ingredients must be prepared carefully. The celery, for example, should not be overcooked and must remain firm. The cured or salted capers must be thoroughly rinsed. The aubergines may be steamed slightly and then sautéed, though some purists prefer frying.
The histories of human migrations are full of agricultural introductions; domesticated wheat probably arrived in Sicily only around 7,000 BC. Like many fruits and vegetables, aubergines (Solanum Melongena) may have been known to the ancient Romans, perhaps as something encountered on the eastern fringes of their Empire. The eggplant is native to southern India. It was introduced in the Mediterranean region by the Arabs in their rapid expansion ever westward from the Middle East.
Chilled caponata, with its slightly exotic aroma and taste, is the perfect complement to the cold salads of summer, but is enjoyable year round. If somebody in Sicily offers you “Baroque” caponata they plan to sprinkle powdered unsweetened Modica Chocolate over it just before serving –an interesting touch but not welcome by all diners. Here’s a basic recipe.
Ingredients: 8 medium size aubergines (eggplants), 200 grams of peeled mature tomatoes, 2 medium size sweet white or yellow onions, the heart of a large celery, 200 grams of pitted large cured firm green olives, 200 grams of capers (if salted soak in water and drain to remove salt), extra virgin olive oil, white vinegar, sugar, salt.
Preparation: Cut the eggplants into chunks about one inch or two centimetres square. (You may prefer slightly larger or smaller pieces.) Do not peel. Cook these by steaming covered in a large pot until completely cooked but firm. (Don’t boil them.) Drain well and set aside. Chop the tomatoes into small pieces or a thick pulp, without discarding the juice or seeds. Chop the onions into medium pieces or thin slices. Cut the celery stalks into pieces about one inch long. Discard leaves. (Many chefs prefer to cut pieces of eggplant, tomato and celery to be about equal in size.) Halve the olives. In a large pan, sauté the onions and celery pieces in olive oil. The celery should be lightly cooked, firm but not raw. Add the tomato pulp and bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for a few minutes until the sauce changes color to a lighter red. At this point, simmer over low heat for another 4-6 minutes. Add the eggplants, olives and capers to the mixture. Also add a few tablespoons each of olive oil, vinegar and sugar. Stir gently and allow to simmer covered (steaming) for about five minutes over medium-low heat until mixture thickens but doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Salt to taste. Then chill for at least four hours before serving.
Finger foods are great, and almost every culture has them. In Sicily one of the favourites is panella. These are flat fried cakes made from the finely-ground flour of ceci (chickpeas), known in Spanish as garbanzos. Sure, Sicilian cuisine has other tasty finger foods, including potato croquets (crocché), but panelle are among the oldest, made continuously since the Middle Ages. Nowadays they’re sold at street side stands, in the street markets and in the occasional restaurant. Like arancine (rice balls), they’re a permanent part of the Sicilian culinary landscape. Sicilian street food is nothing new. It was described by the ancient Mithaecus and, much later, by Arkestratos (of Gela); the latter, whose compilation of recipes survives, was a friend of Epicurus (who died in 270 BC).
There is an inclination on the part of some chefs (and more than a few culinary historians) to regard “ethnic” dishes as either “aristocratic” or “folk foods.” In Sicilian cuisine most foods are broadly interpreted as having always appealed to the population generally; it is only in the last few generations that stigghiola and spleen sandwiches have become “folksy.” Panella is above this kind of identification.
As far as we know it was widely introduced in southern Italy for mass cultivation during Sicily’s Arab period, probably in the tenth century. Though ceci were more widely grown in this era, they were known from the earliest times. Cicer arietinum was originally cultivated by Neolithic man in the Middle East, India and western Asia, domesticated from a variety of Cicer reticulatum still known in Turkey, and present in the central Mediterranean during the Bronze Age. The ancient Greeks and Romans cultivated chickpeas, though probably not to the extent of the Arabs. We might draw an analogy with certain citrus fruits; the ancient Romans certainly knew of oranges, but their widespread cultivation in Sicily was undertaken by the Arabs.
Falafel, hummus and other recipes call for ground ceci. Panella is made with ceci flour (or very finely ground fresh ceci), with just enough water to form a thick paste, some chopped parsley, perhaps a bit of fennel seed, salt and pepper, then fried (or deep fried) in a healthy oil blend (perhaps a mixture of two-thirds corn and one-third olive). The cakes should be no more than about a half-centimetre thick, and about eight centimetres (3.5 inches) square, thought smaller sizes are popular too. The cakes should be cooked completely but not to the point of being completely crispy, with the inside being firm but also tender. It only takes a few minutes.
They are a good source of zinc, iron and other minerals and folate, as well as protein (though low in certain amino acids).
Fried foods of this kind seem to run counter to the health currents of our times, but panella is a tasty temptation and it need not be fried too long to be cooked well.
Finding myself with some friends in central Palermo one Saturday evening around eight, it was suggested that we have something to eat. Being in Piazza San Domenico, nestled between the Vucceria Market and (behind the post office and archeological museum across Via Roma) Piazza Olivella, with its kebab restaurants, kebabs seemed the natural choice –especially as we all like them. The Italian interpretation of this dish is turkey souvlaki served over a bed of radicchio, carrots, lettuce and onions with a slice of cucumber, covered with yogurt sauce. Traditionally, though, souvlaki is made from lamb rather than turkey. Somebody mentioned this, to which somebody else replied that for “real” lamb we should have stigghiola, which was being grilled in the outdoor market nearby. In fact, we could smell the aroma of stigghiola roasting. The smoke was filling the air.
Most of the company, not being from Palermo, had heard of stigghiola but never actually tasted it. Hardly anybody makes it anymore. It’s one of those things you roast at cook-outs, along with sausage and beef. Stigghiola is best when grilled to a crisp over a fire (the photo here shows semi-cooked stigghiola), but what is it?
The roasted intestines of sheep or goat. It’s that simple. Stigghiola is cooked on a skewer, perhaps braided with a strand of green onion leaf (scallion), lightly seasoned with salt, and eaten in bite-size chunks. Like spleen sandwiches (historically called “vastedda”), it’s far tastier than it sounds, though perhaps not the kind of thing you would want to eat every day. There are, of course, other recipes. This one just happens to be the most common.
Offal (organ meats) is rarely eaten nowadays, so one wonders where this food originated. A popular theory holds that stigghiola, like chitlins or chitterlings (a similar dish once popular in the American South), was originally a food of the poor. That may be so, though in Sicily it has become an almost “stylish” cultural symbol of culinary tradition in recent years. The truth is that until the twentieth century offal was more popular generally, not only in Italy but in many countries.
It has been suggested that stigghiola, like spleen meat, was popular among Sicily’s medieval Jewish and Muslim populations, which did not consume pork. Indeed, there is a dearth of pork recipes in Sicilian cuisine, so this is quite possible. Choto (in Uruguay) and parrillada (Argentina) may share the same Jewish and Moorish history, rooted in medieval Spain.
Tradition says that nobody in his right mind would choose sausage (stuffed calf or pork intestines) over the meatier stigghiola, which, like steak, has a very “masculine” image. In fact, I didn’t notice any other women (except those in our group) eating stigghiola on the evening that we tried it, but that didn’t affect its flavor. It was delicious.
Sfincione is a thick Sicilian pizza, or more precisely a focaccia, topped with tomatoes, onions, a few anchovies and perhaps grated casciocavallo cheese, seasoned with a dash of oregano. Outside Italy, the term “Sicilian pizza” is used to describe all kinds of things, but until the 1860s sfincione (loosely translated “thick sponge”) was the kind of “pizza” usually consumed in Sicily, especially in the western part of the island.
With a spongy crust up to two centimetres (an inch) thick, sfincione is more like bread than pizza –which in Italy usually has a thin crust. The Sicilian term “sfincia” alludes to sponges and the spongy, meaning that sfincione shares the same origin as sfinci. Culinary writers like to wax poetic about its “ancient” or medieval origins. In fact, sfincione has been made only since the seventeenth century. The most important ingredient, the tomato, is South American in origin. It has been cultivated in Sicily only since the sixteenth century. The story of sfincione having been invented by some cloistered nuns may have merit, but nobody knows for certain.
The tomatoes are essential, but the real flavour of sfincione comes from the onions, sautéed in olive oil before baking.
Sfincione (Sicilian sfinciune) is made or sold by a sfinciunaro. Street vendors (especially at Palermo’s open-air markets) sell sfincione, but some of the best is made by bakeries like Spinnato (in Palermo’s via Principe di Belmonte). By tradition, sfincione is served on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and Good Friday. In warmer months it is served at room temperature.
“Sfincione” doesn’t refer to just any thick pizza. The genuine article is very simple: dough, tomatoes (in a simple sauce seasoned with salt, pepper and a touch of sugar) and onions. The cheese and anchovies are optional. Only virgin olive oil should be used in the dough and topping. Unlike its circular cousin (pizza) sfincione is baked in a square tray and cut into square or rectangular pieces.
December is buccellato time. In times past, dried fruits signalled the preparation of winter delights like fruit cake and plum pudding. Sicily’s version is buccellato, a combination of figs, raisins, dates, nuts (usually almonds) and candied citrus like fruits like citron – all local Sicilian products – baked in a round cookie shell or as small pastries. But buccellato is much more than a simple fruit cake or fig pie.
Like many pastries, buccellato’s origins are obscured by the mists of time. Nobody knows exactly when Sicilians began making it. In centuries past, honey was the sweetener, but the Arabs brought the cultivation of sugar cane to Sicily. But every part of Europe has some kind of winter pastry made from dried fruits.
While it is associated with the harvest and cooler months, nowadays some pastry chefs make buccellato all year round. Well, if you can have strawberries in January, why not buccellato in June?
By tradition, buccellato was associated with family milestones. Godparents might give one to the parents of their godchild, or a marriage witness (best man or maid of honour) might give one to the parents of the bride. The point is that buccellato not only represented the good fortune and prosperity of the harvest, it was a very “rich” food in itself.
Today buccellato is most often associated with the Christmas holidays. The more common “national” Italian pastry of the Holiday season – which originated with Lombard and Piedmontese pastry makers “up north” – is panettone, a sweet but very plain, spongy bread cake made industrially and sold in cardboard cartons. There is no such thing as “assembly line” buccellato. It is still made by hand.
There is no single recipe for buccellato. Some versions call for jam, others for the addition of marsala or moscato wine, itself a winter favourite in Sicily. Almost any kind of nut can be used – almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts or even pine nuts. The cake can be frosted or simply glazed and decorated with candied fruits like the one shown here.
One thing is certain. Buccellato is the timeless, quintessential Sicilian holiday cake.
Sfinci (or sfingi, the singular is sfincia) are fried pastry puffs filled with ricotta-based cream similar to that used in making cannoli and cassata.
The Sicilian sfincia is similar to the Neapolitan zeppola, but the pastry is lighter and the cream filling typical of Sicily. It is important that the puffs be fried, not baked, because it is interaction with the boiling oil that makes them hollow. Unlike similar pastries in other parts of Europe, sfinci contain no butter or beef fat.
It is true that certain authors identify sfinci, cassata and cannoli with Arab cuisine as it existed in medieval Sicily. There is not absolute certainty here, but it is beyond doubt that cane sugar was introduced by the Arabs, and without it these confections would not exist today. That the sfincia may have existed – in some form – before the Arab period is implied by the former practice of serving sfinci topped with honey instead of filling them with cream.
Like cassata, sfinci are generally considered a winter item, perhaps because in times past winter and spring were the best seasons for milk production by sheep. The best Sicilian ricotta comes from sheep’s milk, and that’s what gives the ricotta cream produced in Sicily its distinctive flavour. In principle, the cream is supposed to fill the pastry, but lazy chefs sometimes spoon it onto the surface of the sfincia instead. (In the example photographed here, the sfincia was coated and filled with the cream.)
In southern Italy and Malta, sfinci and zeppoli have come to be associated with Saint Joseph’s Day, celebrated on March 19th. In Sicily several towns have Saint Joseph as their saint, notably San Giuseppe Iato. Traditionally, Piana degli Albanesi and Monreale were famous for their sfinci and cannoli. Saint Joseph is generally more widely venerated in southern Italy than in the north.
In the Bible’s New Testament, Joseph, a carpenter by profession, is the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. When Jesus is referred to as being of the House of David, the genealogy set forth by the evangelist Matthew is that of Joseph as his earthly father. According to Matthew, Joseph’s father was a certain Jacob, son of Matthan, and so forth. (Luke mentions his father as being Eli.) Some scholars believe that Joseph had other sons as well, and they generally agree that he died long before his son’s crucifixion. Joseph is the patron saint of manual workers and craftsmen.
So many “new” pastries have been introduced in Sicily in recent years that in the wake of this culinary invasion it isn’t always easy to find sfinci, even in winter, except in small towns. The best solution is to be in Sicily on Saint Joseph’s Day.
The culinary dictum that “simpler is better” may reflect current realities –how often do Martha Stewart or Nigella Lawson invite us to prepare complicated desserts? But some of life’s tastiest treats are rather involved, and certainly time-consuming, from the standpoint of preparation. So much so that scarcely anybody chooses to make them at home anymore, deciding instead to rely on the pastry shop for this task. One of these delightfully tempting specialties is cassata, a Sicilian dessert which owes its existence to the medieval Arabs of Sicily.
How this occurred is a question of agriculture. The Arabs introduced sugar cane, and this revolutionised Sicilian cooking. Before the ninth century local honey was used to sweeten Sicilian pastries.
Cassata is a tort of plain white cake filled with the same sheep’s milk ricotta (cottage cheese) cream used in cannoli and sfinci, topped with frosting and sugared fruits. It is traditionally a winter and spring dessert served around Easter; in Sicily sheep produce little milk in summer, and frostings would melt under the torrid heat. Its name is believed to derive from the medieval Arabic kas’at in reference either to its circular form (more precisely the pan used to mold it) or the word for cheese products (cascio akin to casein).
By 1300 Arab Sicily was a thing of the past, and cassata became an aristocratic dessert, its recipes jealously guarded by monastic nuns or the chefs of the aristocracy. Even today, few outside the culinary profession are ambitious enough to make it at home. Why bother, when Palermo boasts the world’s greatest pastry bars? One of the earliest “modern” references to cassata was a document issued at Mazara in 1575 mentioning its importance at religious feasts. Cassata probably originated at Palermo or another city of western Sicily.
Sicilian gelato (ice cream), as it has come to us, is an Arab invention based on sorbet made with cane sugar, though its earliest origins, like that of torrone, are Roman.
Cassata is made year ‘round but it’s still best from November through April.
It is probably the best-known Sicilian pastry. The cannolo, a crust filled with cream, takes its name from its long tubular shape and traces its roots to the Middle Ages. In the ninth century the Arabs brought sugar cane to Sicily, thus changing the sweeteners used in confectionery. Previously honey was used to sweeten Sicilian sweets. The cheese cream used to fill cannoli is sweetened with sugar, and is based on a recipe very similar to that used to make the cream for cassata.
The term cannolo comes to us from a diminutive form of canna (a cane-like reed), such as a sugar cane stalk. In medieval times the tubular shell shape was formed by rolling the paste into a flat, circular shape, then wrapping it around a sugar cane stalk. A finger-size miniature version is called the sigaretta (cigarette). Legends abound, but it appears that cannoli were invented in western Sicily, probably in Palermo or its vicinity. They became a springtime item, associated with Fat Tuesday (Carnevale) because the sheep produce more milk for ricotta in the spring when their grazing pastures are green. Spring is still the best time to buy “pecorino” (sheep) ricotta in Sicily.
In theory, the crust should be very thin, and the best pastry makers prepare it that way. Thicker tubes are easier to make and fry. Yes, the crusty shells are deep fried to achieve a crispy result, though nowadays some bakers prefer to bake them in an oven. Some commercial bakers coat the inside of the shells with chocolate. That’s because they are filling them with cream hours or even days before serving. Ideally, the tubes should be filled immediately (a few minutes) before serving, and the cream should be cold but not close to freezing temperature.
Traditionally cannoli are made with fresh ricotta cheese from sheep’s milk. Ricotta from cows’ milk has a different (milder) flavour. Mascarpone, a poor substitute which is less tasty but higher in fat, is not recommended.
Small pieces of candied fruits, particularly lemon, orange, citron and cherry, are sometimes mixed into the cream. Some chefs prefer pistachios or chocolate chips (too often a culinary crutch). In the photo here candied lemon skins are used as an edible decoration. Another idea is to sprinkle the exposed cream with chopped unsalted pistachios.
Ricotta is an Italian type of cottage cheese. That said, cottage cheese isn’t really cheese. Like various “milk products” – feta, yogurt, mozzarella, sour cream, buttermilk and mascarpone come to mind – it fits into a specific category other than that of cheese. This is a question of ingredients but also of method, as most true cheeses (even creamy ones like brie and camembert) are at least slightly aged.
Then there is the matter of the source of the milk. Feta is made from goat’s milk, mozzarella from the milk of cows or buffalo. Sicilian ricotta is made from sheep’s milk, though it is possible to use cow’s milk too. Because it is so simple to make, cottage cheese is made in certain parts of Asia and Africa where true cheese recipes are unknown in the local cuisine.
So while there are numerous Sicilian cheeses, ricotta isn’t one of them. Most cheeses are made from “whole” milk and varying quantities of cream.
When boiled, milk, consisting mostly of proteins such as casein, separates into solids and liquids. The liquid is mostly whey, or milk plasma. After straining, the solids, or curds, that remain are primarily casein. Several procedures exist to curdle milk or cream, and it’s possible to use rennet or lemon juice, but ricotta is made by simple heating. The word ricotta itself literally means “re-cooked.”
Ricotta actually contains more curds than whey, and its culinary category is “whey cheese” or “curd cheese.” Some milk protein solids (casein) remain after straining, and a bit of salt is added to most ricotta. Sheep ricotta, called ricotta di pecora, typically contains from 12 to 18 percent fat.
A slightly aged version of ricotta is ricotta salata or ricotta al forno, which is a brick of dense, solidified (pressed) ricotta coated with salt. This effect is achieved by slowly baking and even smoking the pressed ricotta.
It is ricotta di pecora that gives the cream filling of cannoli, cassata and sfinci its very distinctive taste. Ricotta made from cow’s milk just doesn’t have the same flavour.
European standards dictate that ricotta must be made in stainless seel vats under specific conditions, but for traditional rustic atmosphere there’s nothing like seeing it made outdoors, on a sheep farm.
Ricotta is “seasonal,” with the best product made during the months that Sicily’s pastures are greenest, from November through May, when the grazing sheep produce the most milk. As demand has increased, so has the price of “genuine” ricotta, and much of what is sold in Sicily today, especially during the warmer months, is made from a mixture of sheep’s milk and cow’s milk.
Genuine ricotta di pecora is the real deal.
May is the beginning of granita season.
The Italian word granita is often translated “frozen ice.” That’s a simplification, for granita is neither (as its name seems to imply) “granular” nor crushed ice. It consists of thin flakes of ice flavored with fresh fruit and sugared.
Why the confusion? Outside Italy it used to be common to sell granular crushed ice – from cubes or even large blocks of solid ice – made with artificial flavors formulated with sweetened syrups as something akin to granita. The kinship was a distant one.
So how is real granita made?
Cold water, chopped fresh fruit (and its juice) and sugar are placed in a vat and the mixture is slowly churned at freezing temperatures until the flakes are formed. Then the granita must be churned continuosly, and slowly so that it doesn’t solidify into a block. As you can imagine, there are granita machines to do this work.
In the old days, before electricity, ice was scraped off of large blocks into flakes. It was never simply crushed.
The modern process offers the benefit of the fruit juice and pulp being infused into the ice flakes. Berries and citrus are the most common flavors. Lemon granita is literally bittersweet. Strawberry is common, and mulberry, gelsi in Italian, is a rare delight. (Shown here is lemon granita with a dash of red mulberry.)
Of course, hardly anybody chews granita. The ice flakes melt on your tongue. There’s no need to suck on them.
Sicilian ice cream differs from granita in that it contains milk or cream, and perhaps some starch. In earlier times ice cream was made from snow. The origins of granita are closer to those of sorbet, which is icy but has a very fine consistency.
Frozen coffee (caffé freddo) is churned in granita machines. Think of it as coffee granita.
A number of Sicilian establishments roast and grind coffee beans into something suitable for brewing but coffee itself is not, strictly speaking, an Italian drink. Coffee (from the coffea arabica berry) first made its way into Europe commercially in the seventeenth century, and the Venetians and were probably the first Italians to appreciate it. The coffee plant is native to Ethiopia, and late in the nineteenth century several Italian companies began to import it directly in exceptional quantities. This profitable trade remained fairly steady even throughout some infamous Italian misadventures which briefly disturbed Italy’s commerce in the region (most notably military defeats in Ethiopia in 1896 and again in 1941). What makes Italy special in coffee circles is that here coffee is served in a variety of ways.
If you ask for a normal caffé, you’ll get a strong, dense espresso –a term rarely used by Italians because that’s the way coffee is normally served here. Incidentally, Italians usually serve coffee in a bar, even if it resembles a French café. (The difference between the Italian pronunciation of caffé and café is too subtle to explain here.)
A caffé that is slightly diluted is lungo; one that is denser than normal is stretto. If it has a few drops of steamed cream or milk in it, it’s macchiato. An espresso with twice the strength and volume of an ordinary, small cup is a doppio (double). This may look like a lungo but it’s not. Typically, Italians indulge in these espresso coffees on the run, standing at a crowded coffee bar. There’s no shortage of these in Sicily. In the largest cities they seem to be everywhere, and in Palermo moreso than in Catania.
Cappuccino is so-called because its light brown color is similar to that of the habits worn by Capuchin monks. This is essentially an espresso lungo topped off with hot, foamy milk and perhaps a sprinkling of chocolate. In Italy, this is a breakfast or mid-morning drink. Only foreigners ever drink it after noon, and some bars turn off the steam apparatus by lunchtime.
Caffé latte is an espresso with fresh milk that is poured on top but not steamed into a froth. It’s a little heavier than a cappuccino but, like that coffee, usually a morning drink. Some purists consider caffé latte a children’s drink.
An americano, as its name implies, is similar to the typical American cup of coffee. Even an American should never ask for this. Few Italian bartenders can make it.
A caffé corretto is an espresso served with a spoonful of amaretto, grappa or other dry spirit.
Caffé freddo (cold coffee) is more popular in Sicily than in other parts of Italy. This unique summer drink is coffee that is literally frozen into a granular substance which is almost –but not quite– liquid.
Recently, in September 2005, a Sicilian establishment was voted Italy’s best coffee bar of the year. This was Spinnato in Palermo. In Sicily, most coffee bars will offer you a variety of biscotti (cookies), cornetti (crescent rolls) and other temptations that go well with coffee.