Today I feel food inspired and I want to talk you through one of the best activity to do in my hometown Catania...eating!! There is so much variety of food in one single town that tourism agency organize gastronomic tours of Catania! Crazy!
The food scene in Catania kicks in very early with a very spectacular fish market, " 'A Piscaria Mercato del Pesce". Here is a photo from a good friend of mine who was traveling there last year. Feeling back in time, right? I love hearing all the stall holders shouting and singing trying to sell their products.
Assuming you stopped at home first to drop off the fresh fish (I wouldn't recommend walking around all day with it), it's time for breakfast. In Catania we only have sweets for breakfast, but still the food choice is hard, and we usually have to face a huge dilemma... what do I eat?? You can get an idea of the troubles we face every day by looking at a typical Sicilian bakery (pasticceria)...
In summer, there is one only option for me, GRANITA CON BRIOCHE. The granita reminds very closely an ice-cream, but is done without milk and so it is much lighter, but equally tasty; the brioche is instead a sweet bun bread. Together, they are something incredible! In the photo below, my two favorite flavors, almonds and pistachio!
In winter time, or also in summer for who is not a granita addict like me, the other option is having a very classic croissant and cappuccino (cornetto e cappuccino). In Catania, the croissant is 9 out of 10 filled with pistachio cream! But I am a big lover of the chocolate cream filling too!
At times, we want to get something different, and trust me the pastry choices are almost endless. One pastry that I do have from time to time is the "Iris".
The classic Iris is a fried bun filled with ricotta cheese and chocolate cream. There is also a "lighter" version with is baked.
Now you are wondering...this is just breakfast?? Yes sir! Our day is still long and full of good food!
In a typical summer day in Catania, we spend our morning chilling out at some bar around town...as we are actually a tiny bit full at the moment, we spend our time drinking coffee. In summer, this can easily become a cold coffee with cream, "caffe' freddo con panna".
This though morning finally came to an end...time to get some lunch! One of the favourite street food choices for lunch is the world famous Arancino. The classic Arancino is a deep fried saffron rice ball filled with mozzarella, tomato paste, green peas, and mince...whoever tried falls in love with it. In Catania, the best place to eat them is Pasticceria Savia, one of the hostorical cafe' in town...and they have quite a variety of flavours...
We always have only one arancino for lunch, but I've seen way too many friends entering into a very deep food coma after eating the second arancino in a row...this is the moment when they truly understand the importance of taking a nap (or how we call it "pisolino").
Now we woke up from the nap, and we can start again our tour! Not without another coffee at a bar of course.
In the afternoon we are all more inclined to get some sweets (yes again! :) ). Another of my great addictions is the gelato, and here again the choices of places to go are huge. If you want to behave like a real Sicilian, your must have the "gelato con brioche", which looks something like this...very similar to the granite we had this morning, but this is a proper gelato.
Or maybe you want to be more traditional and have a cannolo for dessert...for who doesn't know, cannolo is the most traditional and most loved sicilian dessert. It is made of a crunchy shell, filled with sweet ricotta cheese, and garnished with candied fruit or chocolate chips or grinded pistachios. Nowadays there are lot of other equally amazing flavors for the filling.
Ok, somehow we made it to dinner...I totally understand that the day has been way too tiring, so we are not cooking that fresh fish that we bought today at the market :)
One of the classic night time destination in Catania is Achille in Via Plebiscito, and its speciality is......horse meat (carne di cavallo)...yes, you read right! The horse meatballs are incredibly tasty and if you are not feeling weird or bad eating horse meat, they are definitely worth a try. In alternative, you can try the "cipuddata ri carni", a bbq bacon stripe rolled into a spring onion.
If you don't feel like horse meat, we can go to a "paninaro", a food truck that sells some very particular sandwiches. I love paninari!! The panino is usually made of a long roll, and the first layer is most likely grilled ham or bacon with cheese. Then, you can start creating your own sandwich for no extra cost...you can choose between twenty or more ingredients, and you can get as many as you want as long as they "fit" (with some degree of freedom) into the sandwich. To garnish, fries ketchup and majonnaise. I love burgers, but the satisfaction of a good panino form the paninaro has no equals!
Ok, I think that we had a decent amount of food for the day, and the Catania street food tour can be considered over, and I am sure you will be happy to go home and collapse on the couch in front of the tv...or at least that's what I would do :)
I am sure you are wondering by now how much would such a day cost to you...of course it depends from where you go, but here is my guess:
- granita con brioche: 2-3eur
- croissant (or iris) and coffee: 2-3eur
- arancino: 1.5eur
- cold coffee with cream: 1-1.5eur
- gelato with brioche: 3-5eur
- cannolo: 2 eur
- horse meat: 5eur
- panino: 4-5eur
So yes, our crazy expensive Catania Street Food Tour would cost us something like 20 euros...such a though life in Sicily!
To conclude, I am sure we are all hungry now, and regardless on what's in our fridge right now, this food desire won't go away so easily. At Original Sicily, we can help you to experience a tiny bit of this pleasure with a range of great sicilian products! Get one of our Pistachio Sweet Spreads to fill your croissant, or come and try our Cannoli, either the traditional recipe with ricotta or the equally amazing one with pistachio filling.
And...soon we will also be selling the brioche to make your own "brioche con gelato"!