The typical food of Catania: Etna’s flavours
Capital of the metropolitan city of Catania, in Sicily, it has 293,764 inhabitants. It extends to the south-eastern slopes of Mount Etna, and it represents the centre of the most densely populated metropolitan area in Sicily. In addition to being one of the most popular cities for the variety of cultural elements present in the area, it certainly stands out also for the tastiness, but above all the variety, of the gastronomy: enjoy all the delicacies that the city has to offer and you won’t you will regret!
The arancino of Catania is the undisputed king of the typical Sicilian street food. Although the dispute between Catania and Palermo continues over the appropriation of the origin of the arancino (or, in the
Palermo style, “arancina”), in both areas it represents one of the main culinary specialties. Its shape with the wider base and the narrow and elongated upper part recalls that of the so-called “Mungibbeddu”
(‘Mongibello’), that is a surname for the volcano of Etna, while its taste undoubtedly contains all the essence of the Sicilian tradition. The famous “rice ball” can be with meat sauce or butter, for those who prefer to stick to tradition, but today there are also many other variants that meet everyone’s needs: light, vegan, vegetarian,
but also more delicious such as the one with salmon, or bacon. Once stuffed, it will be breaded and then fried.
Remember: the number one rule of Sicilian street food is that there is no cutlery, but everything must be eaten strictly with your hands! An experience that you cannot miss!
Ma l’arancino è solo una delle tante specialità culinarie della tavola calda: potrete anche provare cartocciata, bolognese, cipollina, paté, bomba e il famoso pane “cunzato” (‘pane condito’).
But the arancino is just one of the many culinary specialties of the diner: you can also try cartocciata, bolognese, cipollina, paté, bomb and the famous “pane cunzato” (‘seasoned bread’).
It is the iconic dessert of Sicily. With its crunchy shell made of shortcrust pastry that wraps a soft and sweet heart of cream based on sheep’s milk ricotta, it will tantalise your taste buds. The cannolo is a must on your holiday in Catania. As for the arancino, there are now dozens of variations of cannolo, and this from Catania is one of the most popular because served with abundant chopped pistachios at both ends and the inevitable sprinkle of sugar.
Minnuzze or Minne di Sant’Agata, or cassatine Sant’Agata
Sant’Agata is the patron Saint of Catania and this dessert is a celebration to that. Tradition says that, at a young age, Saint Agata did not succumb to the flattery of the proconsul Quinziano and for this reason she was torn off a breast, which then inspired the shape of the well-known cake from Catania. The shape of the “minnuzze” (‘small breast’), as the name also recalls, is precisely that of a small breast. The dessert is based on sponge cake, sheep’s milk ricotta and royal pasta with a red candied cherry.
Pasta alla Norma
Are you looking for the most popular first course in Catania? Here it is, it’s pasta alla norma, which is a pasta with tomato sauce topped with fried aubergines, flakes of salted ricotta and basil. It is therefore clear that it draws on the tastiest ingredients of the Mediterranean diet. The Pasta alla Norma celebrates in the name and divine inspiration the omonymous work by the famous and beloved Catania-born Vincenzo Bellini, and not tasting it could be a mistake you may regret for a lifetime.
The brioche is a delicious and soft leavened dish, usually accompanied by a fresh granita or a velvety ice cream. Soft and with an inebriating scent, in Catania it accompanies breakfasts and/or snacks. There is also the delicious orange variant.
The Sicilian granita
Fresh and tasty, granita is a dessert made with water, sugar and fruit. Delicious lemon or orange, citrus fruits typical of Sicily. You absolutely need to try the almond and pistachio granita, even better if accompanied by a soft and fluffy brioche.
Spaghetti alla Carrettiera
A thick drizzle of fresh Sicilian oil, the intensity of raw garlic, pepper and a sprinkling of grated pecorino cheese: spaghetti alla Carrettiera are a delight for the palate. They originate from ancient traditions, more specifically from the carters, who transported goods of all kinds from one city to another in ancient Sicily. Always on the go, all they wanted was to be able to eat a tasty and fast pasta that could be prepared with long and easy-to-preserve products, such as oil and garlic.
Olivette of Sant’Agata
Olivette are a dessert, whose shape resumes that of an olive, hence the name of the dessert (literary meaning ‘little olives’). It is made from almond paste covered with sugar and green.colored-
Iris is a delicious sweet dish that has origins from Palermo but is also typical of the city of Catania. An explosion of taste for this soft fried dough filled with custard or chocolate cream. You cannot miss it!
Catania is also known for its horse meat. There are many dishes that the city offers you based on this type of meat and there are many horse butchers and many places where you can enjoy delicious recipes. If there is any vegetarian among the readers, if you don’t want to reconvert, you would do well to skip this part. Among the dishes, you have absolutely to try the meatballs and the horse sausages from Catania. Horse meat is the Queen of “arrusti e mancia” (‘roast and eat’), the top of Catania’s street food. If, on the other hand, you are more lovers of fish than meat, just take an early morning tour of the Pescheria, the famous fish market in Catania, to realize how much choice you will have of seafood: oysters, clams, cockles, smooth clams, razor clams, seafood: fresh seafood to be consumed even raw. In the evening, the Pescheria fills up with the tables of the fish restaurants that offer fresh specimens of swordfish and grilled tuna, sardines a beccafico and the characteristic (and perhaps even a little illegal) baby-fish meatballs, as well as of course a rich offer of shellfish and crustaceans that will not leave you unsatisfied.