insalata di carne – beef salad

Just saying the words “beef salad” makes me feel better about the world, or at least better about salad. When I was a kid, the Sunday evening salad was possibly the meal that depressed me most. Sunday afternoon was depressing enough anyway, but finishing it off with limp lettuce, ice-cold flavour-free tomatoes and salad cream struck me as adding insult to injury, like having Vogon poetry read to you before being flung out of a Continue Reading →

cotechino e lenticchie – italian new year’s eve

New Year’s Eve, and that means cotechino sausage and lentils practically everywhere in Italy. The dish is not Sicilian at all, but then there’s no real Sicilian traditional food for the last day of the year, so like the rest of the country, they borrow this rich, fatty, salty oversize banger from Emilia Romagna. According to tradition, the cotechino represents good health, and the lentils money. While lentils could be seen to resemble coins, how Continue Reading →

street food and markets, palermo

The idea was to pop to Palermo for the morning and do the rounds of its three historic markets: Ballarò, il Capo and la Vucciria, eating my way through them, as I sampled the city’s renowned street food. And so it was, half asleep, that I tumbled out of the train after a three-hour journey, to the vibrant buzz of one of my favourite cities. This is Sicily at its most extreme, with breath-taking churches Continue Reading →

spezzatino aggrassato – sicilian beef stew

Why cook for four if you can cook for eight? This seems to sum up the philosophy of home cooking in southern Italy in a nutshell. It’s all very stereotypical, I know, this image of the mamma slaving over a hot stove to produce gargantuan quantities of food for a ravenous family and any last-minute unexpected guests. A stereotype, maybe, but every time that unexpected guest was me, I’ve found it to be true. So, Continue Reading →

sugo di maiale – pork and tomato sauce

Go into a Sicilian agriturismo in the mountains in the winter, and there’s a good chance you’ll be given a steaming bowl of maccheroni al sugo di maiale. Washed down with some Sicilian vino locale in front of a blazing log fire, I can imagine no better way to warm myself up, or lift my spirits on a dark winter night, for that matter. This is not food for anyone counting their calories, unless of Continue Reading →