To Siracusa (Syracuse) via LUNCH!

We started the long trek toward Catania where we would jump into a cooking class at the home of a special Sicilian chef, her husband and assistants to learn to make some of the most important Sicilian street food specialties.

Our first stop was to meet our chef/instructor at Catania’s historical food and fish market. I’m enamored with food markets (as are most people I know), so this was a real treat. The splashing water and ice, the smells, the sounds of the merchants calling in clients and bargaining is like a very lively Italian opera.

She carefully chooses the best of the vegetables, herbs and meats while painstakingly explaining what she’s buying and why in a loud soprano, fighting off the tumult of the baritones and basses.

She asks if anyone would like to taste the uniquely Sicilian specialty of horse meat at lunch. Much to the chagrin of most of the group, several of us eagerly put up our hands…so she buys some. Very sorry to you who are vegan, vegetarian and/or animal lovers, but I must tell it like it is.

The market eating area is ablaze with a roof of colorful umbrellas (I guess you have to be careful where you place your chair if it starts to rain). We’re also riveted by the lyrical sword dance of the candy vendor forming hot almonds and molten sugar (specialty of this part of Sicily) with sweeping and clanging knives.

Off we go to through the old city of Catania, uphill to the cooking/catering space opened a few years ago by our chef and her husband. The morning lessons in three “street” type foods from three distinct areas of Sicily are outlined for us.

We’re all ears and hungry, and decked out in our new aprons as we hover over the pre-prepped (thank you) ingredients, listening attentively and anxious to get our fingers lickable.

Just as we begin, homemade bread and special olive oil from the area are laid out, with an amazing Prosecco…apparently no Italian chef can cook without. (It’s 10 in the morning, guys).

The work begins as we press and roll the pre-risen dough for flat Sicilian pie, turnovers, and a thrice folded dough with aged cheese, tomato purée, black olives, oregano (Siciliana, Pizza Rianata, and Sccaccia, and Ragusana with tomato sauce and Caciocavallo cheese) come together, ready for the oven or fryer.

Ahhh…the results of our efforts (including the H-meat burgers…that were delicious by the way). All served with a scrumptious local red, meant to be served chilled. We gave ourselves and “A+” – well deserved.

The graduates….

We spent the afternoon digesting and recuperating and making our way toward Siracusa.

As our journey races toward its conclusion, we’ll spend our last two days exploring two beautiful ancient cities; Ragusa and Noto. Get some rest.

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2 Responses to To Siracusa (Syracuse) via LUNCH!

  1. What could be better local foods

  2. Larry says:

    Well, it looks like you’re not starving anyway. Your horse meat burgers reminded me that when we first got to France in “94, there was still one horse butcher still active in Paris (and in our neighborhood market at that) but within our first year, he retired and was never replaced. Don’t know if there are any others in France–maybe in some rural areas, but cultural tastes and mores do change over time.

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