Christmas on Sicilian tables


The gastronomic culture in Sicily is a journey through its history, crossed by different dominations and contaminations, where food is evidence of a perfect harmony. At Christmas the harmony of tastes is even enhanced and each area of ​​the Island offers its own specialties.

Among the appetizers, especially in Catania, you cannot miss the savory “crispelle” in their classic version with an elongated shape filled with anchovies and in their rounded version, filled with ricotta.

In Palermo area let’s get started with sweet and sour pumpkin and poached broccoli. Simple or stuffed focaccias are a separate chapter:  you can find them throughout the island with different names, doughs and fillings: the cudduruni,  the scacce, the scacciate, the focaccia, ‘nfriulati, imbriulati and the pitoni,  filled with ricotta, tuma cheese, olives and anchovies, vegetables and meat. Palermo, on the other hand, is the home of sfincione, a sort of pizza bread (leavened and soft as a sponge) topped with a sauce based on tomato, onion, and pieces of caciocavallo on top.

Take a short break to enjoy a good glass of Nero d’Avola or Nerello Mascalese wine, and then go on with the first courses.

A typical recipe of this time of year is the anelletti alla palermitana, a baked pasta dish of Sicilian origin which owes its name to the ring-like shape of the pasta.

In Palermo, pasta with sardines and wild fennel is considered the first “sea and mountain” dish in history, and dates back to over thousand years ago.

In Modica (in Ragusa area) the most popular recipe is “cacate lasagna”  with pork ragù, fresh ricotta and grated pecorino. Christmas Pasticcio or Pasticcio di Noto, is another typical first course, composed of a very stuffed dough, so much so that it can be considered a single-course meal.

Among the second courses, also in Palermo area, the Xmas dish par excellence is beccafico sardines, simple but flavorful.

Another typical dish is Pesce stocco ‘a ghiotta, stock fish in Messina style: an extraordinary and ancient Sicilian recipe. With clear Norman influences (it is a typical fish from Scandinavian countries) it immediately became the star, together with salt cod, of many traditional Sicilian dishes. It is prepared in a pan with pickled white olives, tomatoes, celery, capers and potatoes.

If you don’t like fish, there is no hassle. You can choose among a rich selection of meat-based second courses, including the falsomagro, the typical Sicilian stuffed meat roll stuffed with meats, cheese and peas. However, all Sicilian families have their own version..

And if it is true that we are all better at Christmas, you deserve all the sweetness that Sicily can give you: cannoli and ricotta cassata, rice “crispelle” with honey, Saint Lucy’s “cuccìa”, “mustazzola”, the chocolate and the orange juice from Modica, almond cookies, the pignolata, and the Sicilian Christmas dessert par excellence, the buccellato: a biscuit filled with dried figs, almonds, walnuts, honey , jam and raisins.

It’s not part of our tradition but artisanal Christmas panettone has recently gained a foothold on our tables. The one produced in Castelbuono is exquisite, filled with Sicilian PGI ingredients: pistachios from Bronte, chocolate from Modica, candied fruit…

Sicilians use to end their meal by eating dried fruit: peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts and the inevitable dried figs.  Dessert wines and liqueurs cannot be missing: you have just to choos between a glass of Marsala wine and one of Malvasia di Lipari, or between a glass of Moscato di Pantelleria and another of Zibibbo

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