Rice Balls, Glorious Rice Balls

Before I continue with the significance of the December 13 Feast for Santa Lucia, let’s talk about the really serious stuff! That is, that Palermitani celebrate the Saint by eating arancine. Arancine (as they are known in Palermo, pictured right; Arancini, if you’re from the east side of Sicily, pictured left), are rice balls filled…

The Famine of 1646

In the days leading up to the Feast of Santa Lucia, December 13, many Sicilians refrain from eating pasta and only eat un-ground wheat grain, or “farro,” that is prepared as a dish called cuccìa. Devotees observe this ritual to remember the severe famine that struck Siracusa and Palermo in 1646. During that time of…

Light Up the Dark

Please mark your calendar to come celebrate our shared light in New York City on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 2PM at Cacio e Vino, where we’ll have a full luncheon with traditional Sicilian dishes for Santa Lucia, a presentation about the Patroness of Siracusa, and a short live concert of traditional Sicilian songs. Reservation and…

Cookie of the Beholder 

Of course we know that for la Festa di Santa Lucia Sicilians eat Cuccìa (pictured top) and arancine (rice balls), purposefully avoiding wheat grain in recognition of the severe famine of 1624 that the patron saint of wheat, eyes, sight, and light helped resolve once she heard her devotees’ prayers. But what I learned from my friend…

Coochy Coochy … Cuccìa

To celebrate Lucia, the Patron Saint of eyes, sight, light, and wheat, Sicilians eat cuccìa. Cuccìa is a pudding made of farro (wheat berries or barley), milk (in this case, ricotta), and honey or sugar. This culinary ritual is practiced in remembrance of the grain that finally arrived by boats on their way from North…

Silver Girl

In the days leading up to the Feast of Santa Lucia, December 13, many Sicilians refrain from eating pasta and only eat un-ground wheat grain, or “farro,” that is prepared as a dish called cuccìa. Devotees observe this ritual to remember the severe famine that struck Siracusa and Palermo in 1646. During that time of…

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…