October in Sicily

October in Sicily means harvest festivals and sagras celebrating the abundance of the season. Each Sunday of this month in the town of Zafferana Etnea, pictured, on the east slope of Etna, they host the 40th edition of Ottobrata Zafferanese, a culture and food festival celebrating the typical products of the volcanic region. Each Sunday…

These Barrels Have a Nose 

November 11 is La Festa di San Martino, or Saint Martin’s Day. It marks the first tasting of the new wine, also known as “novello.” September marked the grape harvest, when the grapes are picked, cleaned, and macerated (Yes, it’s true, wine makers used to stomp on them with their feet…) to make juice that…

It Holds the Pasta 

This Thursday, Aug. 11, the town of Salemi celebrates the 12th Edition of the Sagra della Busiata; That is, a culinary festival dedicated to the corkscrew-shaped, long pasta particular to Trapani province. In this photo, taken in May by Vincent Titone, I am attempting to make busiate. Our Sicilian hostesses in Castellammare del Golfo made…

Melon Yellow

These beautiful yellow melons are now coming in to season in Sicily. These are so good! Sweet and juicy when ripened to “just right.” The town of Joppolo Giancaxio (Agrigento province) will celebrate their harvest of these melons with a sagra this coming weekend. Tastings of melon-based dishes will be enjoyed alongside arts and crafts…

A Mighty Swordfish

In the fishing village of Pozzillo, near Acireale north of Catania, this weekend they are celebrating swordfish with the Sagra del Pesce Spada. Specifically, their specialty is eating a grilled fillet as part of a sandwich. The one pictured, from Il Capo market in Palermo, shows you just how mighty this fish is. 

Nothing Short about Maletto’s Cake

This weekend in Maletto, a town between Randazzo and Bronte on the north slope of Mount Etna, citizens celebrate the 31st annual Sagra della Fragola, or Strawberry Festival. Strawberries, like the ones pictured, are celebrated in all forms: strawberry cake, strawberry pastries, strawberry gelato, strawberry jams, strawberry risotto, strawberry … you get the idea! There’s…

Time to Taste the Wine

The end of September marked the grape harvest and the start of the wine-making season. Once made, the grape juice is left to age for all different lengths of time, depending on the varietal. However, November 11, or Saint Martin’s Day, marks the first tasting of the new wine, also known as “novello.” In towns…

Prickly Jewels

In the early fall, Sicilians enjoy the tuna, or fruit, of the cultivated “ficudinnia” in Sicilian, or “fico d’india” in Italian. We call them prickly pears. “Prickly” is a good description because their spines, both tiny and large, can penetrate your skin easily. Before eating them, you must remove the spines and then peal the…