Catania: Flavor, Fire, Light and Water
26 June, 2014
The province of Catania offers to travelers a wide range of landscapes, passing by small bays and bucolic trails, from Etna, the highest volcano in Europe, to the waters of the Ionian coast. And, as in landscapes, gastronomy of Catania is formed by great diversity of traditional recipes where converge Mediterranean tastes and textures.
Herbs, spices and products make a journey of flavors on the palate. From oriental spices like cinnamon and saffron - that flavored so many dishes-, to the sweet and sour or citrus contrasts.
The Etna volcanic soil is rich in minerals which, alongside with its characteristic climate, allows the cultivation of excellent fruits like lemons and oranges, tangerines, apples, olives, almonds, strawberries, cherries, hazelnuts, chestnuts and the production of quality wines worldwide recognized.
One of the great products of this dark and fertile land is the Bronte pistachio, the "green gold of Sicily", which is used for making ice cream, sauces and in many recipes.
Perfect to discover the land's products, nothing better than to visit its historic markets, the Fescheria and the Piazza Carlo Alberto Markets, who from early hours swarm at a frantic pace.
In Fescheria, located in Duomo Square, the visitor can try some of the products in site , such as clams, mussels, sardines, anchovies, oysters, sea urchins or mauru, an algae of the area which is eaten raw and dressed with a few drops of lemon.
To start the day, especially in summer, you should try the typical Catanese breakfast with lemon granita, almond, strawberry or chocolate, accompanied by a brioche called Tuppu. The granita is a Sicilian icecream that has little to do with the typical Italian icecream; it is similar to the typical granita but more creamy and refreshing, and is made with natural fruit.
Pasta alla Norma
The most traditional dish is "Pasta alla Norma", which is normally prepared with macaroni or spaghetti, tomato sauce, crispy fried eggplant, fresh ricotta, albahaca, and is named after the most famous opera composer Vincenzo Bellini, born in Catania.
Taste as well the typical arancini for a snack or a light meal. It is a ball of fried rice prepared in Sicily in a thousand ways: filled with meat, spinach, ham or eggplant. It must be eaten by holding the tip. They are very good at restaurantes such as Etoile d'Or (the Piazza Umberto), Spinella (Via Etnea 298) or Da Ernesto. (Via Ruggero di Lauria 91/93)
Do not forget the famous Catanese pastry and, especially, the popular cannoli -a flaky pastry filled with ricotta and nuts-, the cassata alla ricotta or almond and pistachio pastries. They can be found in many local street Etnea, as in Pasticceria Savia, one of the most prestigious bakeries in Catania. (Via Etnea 300 http://www.savia.it/)
One of the attractions of the Catanian cuisine are its chioschi , a octagonal shaped booths at strategic shadowy places, where thirst and temporary fatigue are relieved. Some refreshments are traditionally served based in fruit syrups mixed with carbonated water time.
Each neighborhood has its own chioschi. It comes to be the place where people get together at any time as they are open almost 24 hours a day. Here you will appreciate the habits and customs of the Catanese.
The first chioschi called Costa, opened in 1986 in Piazza Stesicoro, and later opened Vezzosi in Piazza Duomo. The Costa moved to Piazza Santo Spirito and Vezzosi moved to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele III, where they are today.
Picture Pasta alla Norma by Paoletta S.
A place well worth discovering! Check out our flights here.
26 June, 2014