In the spring, wild fennel grows throughout Sicily’s mountainous regions. It’s on the side of the road, in orchards under olive trees, in fields… It seems like everywhere you look, within a few meters, you’ll see it. When it’s young, it possesses a wonderful anise or liquorice scent and flavor. On Sunday, in the Madonie-mountain town of Blufi (Palermo Province), they are celebrating the Sagra del Finocchietto Selvatico, or the Wild Fennel Festival. The day’s activities include a panoramic mountain bike tour, a guided visit to their Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Oil (led by high school students of the town), folk music and dance, a photography exhibit, and of course, “degustazione” of finocchietto… a tasting of all things made with wild fennel. Hmm… since I can’t be there, I think I’ll pull out the jar of wild fennel pesto in my cupboard for tomorrow’s dinner!
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The color of fennel is so vibrant in spring. It is a wonderful cultural tradition to honor the seasons and their offerings with these local festivals.