When we talk about Sicilian cuisine, we think overall to desserts: from the ingredients semplicity to the cooks and housewives’ imagination, to the particularity of flavors and combinations influenced by the many populations that have crossed and contaminated the region with their cultures over the centuries. Granites and ice creams are just some of the famous Sicilian recipes that have become known in the Italian culinary tradition; but it is especially during the most important events such as Christmas, Carnival and Easter that Sicilian cuisine gives its best.
According to tradition, the recipes designed to cheer up the Easter lunch should help to increase the tone of the party. On this occasion, among the decidedly most awaited dishes, the pastry specialties fall and they, on Easter, offer a variety of biscuits, breads and sweet pastries, baked or fried, enriched with “pasta reale” and ricotta and they are often decorated with colored hard-boiled eggs that symbolize hope and rebirth. In addition to chocolate eggs, the showcases of pastry shops are filled with traditional cannoli, cassata and cassatelle with ricotta, a wide selection of biscuits and baskets made with bread dough: “pupi cu l’ova” (with eggs) and “picureddi“, which means little sheeps of “pasta reale”, lying on one side and lying on green meadows of sugar scattered with colored sugared almonds. The “pasta reale” is a mixture made with sweet almond paste, egg whites and sugar. The name comes from the Arabic Mauthaban that originally indicated a coin, then a unit of measure and finally the container of marzipan. Among the various examples of the union between symbology and Easter desserts, there are the “palummeddi” Modicani, a dish made with sweet dough or with barley and rice flour and containing a boiled egg.
The dessert that represents the symbol of the Sicilian culinary tradition is the “cassata”, a typical Palermitan dessert of Arab origin, filled with sweetened ricotta, candied fruit, apricot jam and covered with colored icing. Created to celebrate Easter after the Lenten sacrifices, the cassata has now become a dessert prepared and consumed at any time of the year and an all-day event spread throughout Italy. Its Saracen origins can be traced in the harmonious union of ingredients and flavors: sponge cake, ricotta, chocolate and candied fruit. Tradition tells that the cassata is the result of the imagination of the cooks of the court of the Emir who lived in the Kalsa of Palermo around the year 1000, but its “Easter vocation” is testified by a document of the Synod of Marzara of 1575 in which the cassata is defined “indispensable in the Easter holidays”.
Easter is undoubtedly an excellent opportunity to visit Sicily that offers not only the opportunity to learn about and discover wonderful places, but also to taste dishes and Easter desserts with an unforgettable taste.