Are you planning to visit Sicily? Are you a foodie-kind of traveler?
There is a list of local food and delicacies you cannot miss. Granita, arancini, cannoli and cassata are top on the list and if do not taste at least one of them you cannot proudly say "I was in Sicily"!
Let's start with granita, my favourite. What is funny to me is reading worldwide accredited and reliable guides writing that granita is made with ice and syrup. I suppose those writers have never been to Sicily or have never tasted granite in Sicily to talk and write nonsense.
It is true that in the past people used to prepare granita with snow and lemon juice, this was typical of Messina area, while Catania dignified the "minnulata" a granita made exclusively of almonds.
Born originally in Messina, granita is diffused all around the island. It is a kind of sorbet, the basic recipe includes water (not ice!) and sugar to which several ingredients are added to characterize its flavor: lemon, almond, strawberry, coffee, chocolate (it matches perfectly with the almond one), pistachio (try it in Catania area!), mulberries, peach, just to mention some.Bars and cafès rigorously serve in a transparent glass and you may ask to add some panna (cream) on the top or at the bottom of the glass (this is used in Messina area where they add panna both at the bottom and on the top of the coffee granite) and match it with a fragrant brioche. So, while in Sicily ask for "granita con panna e brioche"!
Granita is a true masterpiece of Sicilian cooking and the favourite piece for summer breakfast (don't be afraid to have a granita any time during the day, you will see local people have lunch with it or eat it at midnight!).
Believe me, it is absolutely a must, a frivolous titbit you will never forget!
In Sicily the method to make it is completely different from the north of Italy where they use to make ice, crush it and then add the flavour. Here, bars and cafes use a special machine with blades able to keep moving the liquid at a very low temperature so avoiding it to solidify. A high percentage of sugar in the liquid favours the preparation of a sort of cream which is the granite itself.
Now, you wonder, can we do home-made granita? Definitely yes!
Serves 4/5 people
½ a lt of lemon juice (use 8/10 organic lemons only)
½ a lt of water
500 gr of caster sugar
Grated lemon peel (1/2 organic lemons are enough)
A steel bowl
1. Grate the lemon peel and then squeeze the lemons to prepare the juice.
2. Boil the water and let it rest until tepid, then add sugar, lemon juice and grated lemon peel. Let it cool.
3. Pour it in the steel bowl and put it in the freezer. Stir the liquid every 20/30 minutes using a fork or a whisk so to avoid its solidification.
4. When the liquid becomes grainy, granite is ready. Serve it in transparent glasses with tea spoons and fresh cream.
P.S. The brioche recipe will be posted at soonest!
© Text and pictures by Doriana Briguglio