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…

The New Wines of Etna

Photo by Josh Bean on Unsplash Ben Spencer is a journalist and professional winemaker who lives and works near Mount Etna. He explores the Mount Etna wine-producing area in a mixture of culinary history and guide book in his excellent new book The New Wines of Mount Etna. Spencer’s passion and knowledge of wine make…

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.…

Sicily in November

The first and second of November in Sicily are sombre, holy and sad days dedicated to Saints and dead souls. A month of meteorological transition, which has been causing havoc all over Italy this year (2018) with extensive flooding in Veneto and Alto Adige. In the south, there is a flux between the hot scirocco…

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…

A bunch of ways to eat in Italy

Italians are serious foodies, so there are always plenty of options as to where to seek out food and drink while on holidays in Italy. Today I thought I'd give you a quick Italian vocabulary to use while hunting down food on Italian trip as I've been getting many requests for more Italian language related…

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…

Reflections on a summer garden

I am probably the worst gardener in the world, name a plant, and I've probably killed it usually by forgetting to water it. Strangely enough, both my parents and grandparents were (and still are) fantastic green thumbs. Our family always had terrific vegetable gardens. In the summer we never needed to buy tomatoes, basil, eggplants…

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…

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…