Presentation on theme: "SOME HINTS ON THE INFLUENCES OF THE VARIOUS CIVILIZATIONS IN SICILIAN GASTRONOMY For many centuries, Sicily’s history has been characterized by the domination."— Presentation transcript:
SOME HINTS ON THE INFLUENCES OF THE VARIOUS CIVILIZATIONS IN SICILIAN GASTRONOMY For many centuries, Sicily’s history has been characterized by the domination of various civilizations which have left their mark not only in its territory but on its culinary traditions.
Hedypàthei a Hδυπατεα Hedypàthei a Hδυπατεα Cefalù Archestrato The Sicilians have always liked the “pleasures of the table”: one of the first gastronomic essays of history was Hedupàtheia (The Sweet Taste), written by the Sicilian Archestratofrom Gela, in the 4 th century B.C., some of whose recipes, above all those concerning fish, are still valid. Also the great Latin poet Horatio – 1 st century B.C. – in his writings praised Sicilian cooks and Sicilian food.
The presence of the Greek civilization can be seen in the usage of green and black olives, salted cottage cheese, the Homeric lamb grilled over charcoal, fish, honey and, above all, wine, the production of which was begun by the first Greek colonizers. Greek Crater of the 4 th century B.C., depicting the scene of a man selling tuna fish. (Mandralisca Museum)
During the Roman period Sicily was considered “the granary of Italy”. Typical dishes of the time were the “maccu di fave” (mashed broad beans), stuffed cuttle fish, baked onions seasoned with oil and vinegar, the “sanguinacci” or blood sausages which were always very much appreciated at the sumptuous banquets given at the Villa del Casale in Piazza Armerina. Mosaic of hunting scene at the Roman Villa del Casale in Piazza Armerina (III century A.D.)
After the fall of the Roman Empire Sicily was invaded by various foreign tribes who, however, did not stay enough to leave a mark on the culinary art. On the other hand the BYZANTINES imported a few spices from the East which continue to be consumed today. Sicily flourished again, from the architectural and cultural point of view, with ARABS. With regard to the cuisine dishes becameincreasingly varied and sophisticated. Thanks to the introduction of the cultivation of the sugar cane, refined sugar started to be employed in the preparation of many sweets dishes (such as the “royal paste” or marzipan) and, together with cottage cheese and the candied peel of oranges and lemons (whose cultivation the Arabs imported in Sicily), became the most important ingredient of the most famous and typical Sicilian cakes. Lemon Granita and brioche served for breakfast
The use of mulberries, aniseed, sesame and some spices, such as cinnamon and saffron, goes back precisely to this period. Sorbets were prepared with essences from fruit and flowers and the snow carried down from Mount Etna, and ice cream that can still be found in the Trapani area was made with jasmine oil. The most obvious trace of the encounter with the Arabian civilization is “couscous” in the are near Trapani, differing from the North African dish soup instead of meat soup.
The period of the NORMAN conquest is responsible for the use of salted cod and salted and smoked herrings, wonderfully cooked today in the Messina area Dried codfish in a typical recipe of the Messina area.
After the incident of the Sicilian Vespers and the consequent liberation by the Angiovins who had succeeded to the Normans/Swabians, The Kingdom of Sicily was constituted (under the Aragonese) and it was in this period that the distinction began between the nobles’ or baronial cuisine (so-called “monzu”, Italianized from the French “monsieur”, as the cook used to be called) which had castles and convents as a setting, and popular cooking which developed in taverns and inns.
Following the arrival of the SPANIARDS, these two types of cuisine continued along parallel tracks, both of them introducing the use of the tomato from America, which goes so well with aubergines, onions and sweet peppers, whereas the wild fennel used in so many Sicilian recipes originally came from the Canary Islands. Tomatoes hung in bunches (above) and tomatoes drying in the sunshine.
A famous painting by Guttuso representing a popular open air market in Palermo: the “Ucciria”. Today, with the facilities of globalization and preservation by deep freezing, gastronomic customs have obviously changed: products from all over the world can easily be found in big supermarkets in Sicily, just as many groceries outside Sicily have ingredients of Sicilian cuisine.
A colorful stand (typical of popular feasts) with peanuts, pistachios, almonds, pumpkin seeds, decorated with scenes from the stories of the paladins of Charlemagne fighting against the Moors.