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He put one aside. first biting into it. juices squirting over the customers. making them jump and laugh. For larger fish it‘s necessary to visit the markets. where round tuna steaks. flesh almost orange. are sliced and sold to shoppers with bags already full ofthe herbs and oil they need for marinade. The great swordfish lie. chopped in half at the middle. as big as men, swords pointing at the sky. Sardines and anchovies. like tuna. have long been exported as well as




- .0381 seven days food served all day fri & sot

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74 The List 30 August 12 September


~\ ; used locally. Pasta con acciughe e l mollica is a simple meal: pasta stuffed with breadcrumbs, currants. pine nuts and anhovy paste. They arrive curled on the plate with tails flourished up in the air. soaked with i the juice of fresh oranges and lemons. Pasta can [6 sarde more or less the national dish comes with currants and pine nuts. fennel and saffron.

Swordfish is used differently only fished in small numbers to be eaten locally. usually grilled with salt and olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. It‘s also served. like many Sicilian fish dishes. with currants and pine nuts. or green olives and capers. Or marinaded in rosemary. pepper and white wine. and cooked in breadcrumbs. On summer evenings.

when the heat is not too intense, you

can see women out picking the capers from bushes growing wild along coastal roads. These little

unopened flower buds give Sicilian cooking its strong. peppery taste. i one of its most distinctive flavours.

The best way to sample swordfish is when it‘s freshly fished from the channel dividing Sicily and Africa and cooked in extra virgin olive oil with capers from the nearest bush

and lemon from the nearest tree. A

hot evening and a vie of fishing boats on the sea doesn't hurt either!

Apart from meat and fish. the combination ofvegetables and pasta and the selection of different pizzas and cheeses in Sicily all merit a bit of non-platonic indulgence. (.‘aprmata mixes aubergine with celery. onion. olives and capers. ()n the island of Levanzo we bought freshly-made panini filled with aubergine and peppers dripping with oil and herbs. And we got used to waiting a long time for pizza in restaurants run by families who shared the cooking and made everything freshly. Sicily‘s cheesemaking is equally careful and has hardly changed in 3000 years. Sheeps‘ milk is commonly used, to produce unsalted tuma. sharp tasting primosale or the better known pecorino. Baked ricotta is grated onto pasta dishes like pasta (on [e melanzane to complement the tastes ofaubergine, tomato. basil and garlic.

Ifyou like Italian food. you‘ll love Sicilian food inspired by the history and flavours of Africa and the East sweet and sour. cinnamon and aniseed. oranges and lemons. The trouble is. to try it, since Italian restaurants often neglect Sicilian cooking. you have to go to Sicily or

5 make you own.


I Sicilian Food Mary Taylor Simeti

((‘entury £16.99) ‘A book to cook

' from and a book to read.‘ the flylcaf

says. and it’s true. This is much more

5 than a cook book Simeti has j writtenan economic and cultural ? history of Sicily with special

reference to food.

References to 1).”. Lawrence. Aristophanes and Pirandello get along happily with suggestions for cooking the fatty intestines of lambs and kids in wine (no thanks). traditional recipes for pasta sauces and tips on perfecting Sicilian ice cream.

Well researched text describing the different influences on Sicilian cuisine down the centuries is punctuated with illustrative recipes and anecdotes: naughty 19th century nuns. for example. making a sweet disguise for poison fed to Palermo‘s nobility God‘s will of course.

Simeti looks at peasant fare. rich mens‘ preferences. classical culinary inheritance. today‘s most popular dishes and special foods for celebrations. A chapter headed ‘Virgins‘ Breasts. (Thancellors‘ Buttocks' gives a run down of all the fancy foods made for the festivals of patron saints‘. Another. ‘I scream, you scream. we all scream for ice cream’ is self-explanatory.

I can vouch for a number of the pasta dishes. and the fish too - swordfish and tuna steaks are available locally from fishmongers. Get cooking!


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This recipe for lmpanata Di Pescespada (Swordfish Pie), taken from Sicilian Food by Mary Taylor Simeti, is a dish that would have graced the baronial tables of late 19th century Belle Epoque Sicily, but is not so extravagant as to be out of reach today.


Pasta Frolla Pastry:

33/4 cups flour

2tbsps sugar

pinch salt

2facup lard

V4 cup sweet butter

grated rind oft orange

2 eggs

1/2—1 cup white wine


3 medium zucchini

V2 cup olive oil plus 2 tbsps

1 onion, grated or minced fine

1 cup celery cut into 1/2in slices, blanched

V2 cup pitted green olives

V3 cup capers

vs cup sultana raisins, plumped in warm waterand drained

Va cup pine nuts

11/.» cups peeled, chopped fresh tomatoes

2Ib swordfish, skinned, boned, and diced

Sifttogetherflour, sugar, and salt. Cut the lard and butter into small pieces and cut them into the flour, working into a coarse meal. Add the orange rind, and stir in 1 whole egg and 1 yolk (reserve the extra white). Add the wine little by little, using just as much as is

necessary to bring the pastry together. Knead briefly, shape in a ball. and

: refrigerate for at least an hour.

Wash the zucchini and cut them into Vain slices. Sauté them in 2 tbsps of olive oil until delicately browned. Put aside.

Saute the onion in 1/2-cup oil over a very low flame until it is soft. Add the celery, olives, capers, raisins, and pine nuts. Saute for 3 mins longer, stirring occasionally, then add the tomato and simmer for about 5 mins, Add the swordfish and simmer for another8—10 mins.

Grease a deep 12in pie dish. Knead the dough for a few minutes, then divide it into two parts, one of them slightly largerthan the other. Roll out the larger piece into a circle wide enough to line the bottom and sides of the dish. Fill the lined dish with a layer of swordfish, a layer ofzucchini, and

then another layer of swordfish. Roll out the remaining pastry, place it over the pie, and seal the edges. Make vents in the upper crust with a fork and decorate it with scraps of pastry. Beat the reserved egg until loamy and brush it overthe top of the pie.

Bake in a 350°F oven for approx 60 mins or until the crust is a pale golden brown.