Tribute: I have the honour of introducing Real Sicilian Cuisine with these delicious and simple recipes, with easy-to-find ingredients. All of these recipes are from the kitchen of Mamma Pina, my mother. Surely you know that we Sicilian men never cook because our mothers always cook delicious food for us (and also for our sisters, those modern young women). Yes, we are spoiled! You too can spoil your loved ones by preparing these dishes or feel spoiled if served one. Grazie mille, Mamma, for sharing your "secrets" with us! Buon appetito!
Background: Three thousand years, three thousand delights – Sicily is an island of great allure, fertile and sun-drenched in the heart of the Mediterranean. The island possesses all the colours in God’s creation: from the green of the coast, to the yellow of the countryside, to the blue of the sea, to the black of the lava and obsidian. Its history speaks the languages of the Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Spanish, and Italians who came here, willingly and not. They were brought by wars, shipwrecks, commerce, or a desire for knowledge, and all gave their colours and flavours to the cuisine.
Homer in his classic The Odyssey recounts the story of Ulysses sailing around Sicily on his long voyage home. In those far-off days, Ulysses found two of the earliest souvenirs from Sicily: bread, the first symbol of civilization; and pecorino cheese (from sheep's milk), found in the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus. Even today, visitors still find these "souvenirs" to be essential in Sicilian cuisine.
Like its inhabitants, Sicilian cuisine can be rich or poor, evoking the struggle of a diverse people to live in a harsh, but memorable land with its brilliant landscape, intoxicating scents, and ever-elusive shape. Serve Sicilian dishes at your table, and find yourself turning over page after page of history.
Remember: Mamma Pina is Sicilian, so measurement conversions may be necessary.