1,000 words about Sicily: Fichi d’India

Driving through the countryside outside Catania, under the shadow of Mount Etna between the lava rocks and the dark soil dotted with olives and pistachio trees. There is an introduced plant that thrives and has been claimed by Sicily the fico d’india literally the Indian fig.The prickly pear is a natural survivor of everything from…

A humble olive harvest

There is something humbling about participating in a traditional olive harvest. Every couple of years, I get to help my husband, and his family gather olives to make oil for our own family. Everyone loves the taste of good high-quality oil, and I refuse to do without it. I grew up eating olives, and I’m…

How to peel a fico d’india

The exotic prickly pear (fico d’india) is a delicacy in Sicily and thrives around the entire island. Known also as the Barbary fig (opuntia ficus-indica) it is a species of cactus cultivated throughout the world in arid and semiarid areas and is thought to be native to Mexico. It is best to taste them after…

The prickly situation of the Fichi d’india

Mountains of prickly pears cactus plants line the roadside spreading out into the uncultivated land, they thrive in the lava soil and produce a much-loved fruit, in Sicily. The flat, irregular, leaves of the fica d’india are oval-shaped, a little bit bigger than a table tennis racquet. The fruit of this cactus ripens gradually around…

Sicilian Splendors: discovering the secret places that speak to the heart

  I discovered the work of John Keahey by accident a few years ago when his first book about Sicily (Seeking Sicily: a cultural journey through myth and reality in the heart of the Mediterranean) randomly popped up on my Amazon search for books on my usual trawl through the internet for inspiration. After a…

Yuletide Sicily

The festive season is always a beautiful time of the year to visit Sicily as it is filled with the colours, tastes and sensations of a traditional Sicilian Christmas. A Yuletide Sicily offers visitors a unique way of experiencing the island which is inhabited by fewer tourists and is ultimately a more authentically Italian celebration.…

Ottobre in Sicilia

October in Sicily is a beautiful time of the year, there is a distinct cold snap which reminds you of the comforting warmth of a sweater and the new season brings with it new sensations and tastes which are as inebriating as newly fermenting wines. While I am always sad to see the end of…

The eternally misunderstood melanzana

The Dolce Vita Bloggers are getting serious this month, we are talking about food and our favourite Italian recipes. Thanks again to Kelly from italianatheart.com, Jasmine from questadolcevita.com and Kristie of mammaprada.com for giving me a chance to explore the nature and origins of the aubergine in the Sicilian kitchen and the best way to…

Food Festivals in Sicily

Sicily has a wonderfully variegated cuisine, its plate is filled with influences from all around the Mediterranean from the Middle East, to North Africa, Greece and many more. There is great pride in preparing local specialities and showing off the abundant talent of each chef. Like in most of Italy each region, even town from…

How to eat like an Italian

I recently saw this image on Facebook from a supposedly "Italian" restaurant in Australia and was reminded of how different food consumption is in Italy. Yes, the photo does look delicious, but this is in no way an authentic way of serving Italian food. Italians would never put pasta together with meat on the same…

Food and religious festivals in Sicily this August

August is a month filled with endless food and religious celebrations which fill the table with local fare and many opportunities to witness ancient patron saint festivals. Most Italians have their annual summer vacation this month, so there is a particularly hectic series of outdoor events paired with epic traffic jams to match! Italy in…

A walk to the fig tree

In the summer Sicilian’s become like frugivorous animals living off the fruits produced by their gardens. So my husband, son and I are obliged to take a walk to the fig tree to gather up its bounty. The only problem is the tree is hidden deep below a steep precipice behind overgrown bushes and prickly…

Una passeggiata fina un albero di fico

In estate i Siciliani diventano come degli animali erbivori, vivendo dei frutti prodotti dai loro giardini. Perchio mio marito, mio figlio e io sono obbligati a fare una passeggiata fino l’albero di fico per raccogliere i suoi frutti. L’unico problema è che l’albero è nascosto sotto un ripido precipizio dietro coperto dalla vegetazione e piante…

Sagre and Feste in July

Food and religious festivals (sagre and feste) all over the peninsula are at the heart and soul of Italian traditions. The ones celebrated on the island of Sicily are particularly rich in history, colour and taste. Sicilians are proud of their cuisine and dedicate a considerable amount of effort in preparing and sharing their typical…

Summer decadence

Sicily is filled with many culinary delicacies throughout the year, but it seems to outdo itself for the summer holidays when everyone is out to have a good time and forget their diets. There are the usual pastries and the cliché gelati but two particular summer favourites which simply must not be missed by any…