Bella Sicilia is the place my grandparents lived before coming to America. It is the largest island in the Mediterranean and is famed for it's beautiful beaches, exquisite cuisine and fascinating history. In 1787, German author Johann Von Goethe wrote in his book "The Italian Journey", that "Italy without Sicily leaves no imprint on the soul; here is the key to everything."
To discover Sicily is to discover the world. The island is full of cultural wonders. Throughout the ages, Sicily has been colonized by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Normans, Arabs and Romans just to name a few. Each leaving behind a history that can be seen today in Sicily's art, music, literature, architecture, language and especially their exquisite cuisine.
Each conqueror left behind a piece of their culinary heritage which developed into the traditional Sicilian cooking that we know today. The varied climate on the island enables areas to grow rich and tasty fruits and vegetables. The lava eruptions from Mt. Etna fertilized the soil to unparalleled richness. Any crops that grow here surpass the flavor of any other in the world.
Since their vegetables and fruits are superior in taste, the simplicity of their cuisine allows these natural flavors to emerge. Popular dishes like "Pasta alla Norma" or "Pasta con Cavolfiore" are a perfect examples of how fresh ingredients are utilized.
And then there Sicily's ultimate snack food "Arancini di Riso". Rice balls filled with meat, cheese and peas then deep fried to perfection. If there is any recipe that reflects the history of Sicily this is it. Canestrato Fresco cheese from Greece, rice from the Arabs, ragout from the French and tomato sauce from the Spanish. Arancini dates back to the 10th century so it is no wonder so many cultures influenced its flavors.
You can't discuss Sicilian cuisine without mentioning their desserts. Sicilian desserts are unsurpassed. Who can resist a pastry shop window full of cannoli, cassata, pignolata, struffoli or other sweet treats. Sicily produces a very large variety of desserts that are distributed all throughout many Mediterranean countries. The best gelati, pastries and cakes are enjoyed by many.
All in all, Bella Sicilia is the best place to experience wondrous architecture, cuisine and traditions. So remember to discover Sicily is to discover the world.
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