Mushrooms in Sicily. Where to eat them
For those who love walking in the woods and trekking, September is the start of the mushroom season and the right time to taste tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms and sautéed chanterelles.
The best places for mushroom growing in Sicily are the woods of oak, hornbeam, beech and high altitude chestnut.
In the province of Messina, mushrooms grow in the Peloritani and Nebrodi mountains. In the province of Palermo, the Madonie Park and the Bosco della Ficuzza, Rocca Busambra, Bosco del Cappelliere and Gorgo del Drago natural reserves are the most suitable areas. Other mushroom growing areas include the Sicani Mountains in the province of Agrigento, the Erei Mountains in the provinces of Caltanissetta and Enna in the Iblei Mountains in the provinces of Siracusa and Ragusa, the Etna Park and the Alcantara River Park in the province of Catania.
The ‘royal’ porcini mushrooms grow in the more humid area of the Etna volcano, called Giarrita.
A very popular area for mushroom picking is the Nebrodi Park. This area is home to many different varieties of mushrooms, from boletus to the prized Caesar’s mushroom, from chanterelles (or iadduzzeddi) to parasol mushroom.
But underground there is an even more precious treasure. Indeed, Sicily is a land of highly prized truffles, that can be found all year round in limestone soils. The richest areas for this type of fungus are the east – especially in the provinces of Siracusa and Ragusa – and the west part of the island – above all, around the Sicani mountains.
Other places where truffles can be found are Alcamo and Monte Inici in Castellammare del Golfo, in the province of Trapani; the Palermo area with Partinico, Cinisi, Ficuzza, Godrano; and the Madonie area.
Every year, in autumn, many towns in Sicily organise festivals celebrating the forest’s protagonists. With their scents and different textures, either alone or combined with other delicious foods, they make every meal irresistible.
With easy and quick recipes (ttattà!, as they say in Sicilian), it is possible to cook excellent dishes at home. In the autumn menus of many typical Sicilian restaurants and trattorias, you will find delicious dishes that bring out the flavour of fresh mushrooms.
Try them in a delicious fresh egg pasta sauce (such as pappardelle ai fughi porcini, for example), in delightful arancini, , stuffed or pickled and served with rocket and parmesan cheese. You’ll be spoilt for choice.
Enjoy your meal.