She Answered Their Prayers

A severe famine struck Siracusa and its environs in 1646, the time of Spanish domination of Sicily. For relief, the citizens prayed to their patron saint, Santa Lucia, and in May that year during a mass, a quail flew into the Cathedral squawking at the faithful. At the same moment, a messenger entered the church…

When Without Wheat

Before I get to the serious significance of the December 13 Feast for Santa Lucia, let’s talk about the really serious stuff: that Palermitani celebrate the Saint by eating arancine. Arancine (as they are known in Palermo; Arancini, if you’re from the east side of Sicily), are rice balls filled with either a beef ragu…

Since 1834, Palermitani from all walks of life have savored the dishes offered by Antica Focacceria San Francesco, a 5th generation, family-run establishment in the center of Palermo. Its name is deceptive: focaccia is only one of this gastronomic hub’s specialties. I usually fill my tray with arancine, panelle, cazzilli di patate, sfinciuni, and other…