I was a child, but I remember it as if it were yesterday. In the Summer, I went to Viagrande for the pleasant, cooler summer evenings. I remember the intense perfume of the jasmine that climbed over all the walls all around the patio with its pits in the middle. So intoxicating, it almost made your head spin. And then there was the pizza, with its croissant shape, served just cooked and steaming on the plates of beautifully dressed tables between the trees and the plants of this hidden garden.
In Sicily, Sicilian pizza can be made a number of ways. In Palermo, it is the Sfincione, widespread among the island’s many regions. In an island as big as Sicily, differences in the preparation of the pizza are linked with local culture and tradition, which vary over distances of only a few kilometres. Some recipes have even reached other countries with their original characteristics, like in New Jersey, where the pizza takes the English name of Sicilian pizza, the American version of the Sicilian pizza.
In the Catania region, following a tradition dating back to the late XVIIth century, we find the Scacciata, which looks similar to a double-layered pizza, with two original version: in town, it was made with Caciocavello cheese and anchovies, in the surroundings of Catania, it was made with broccoli, cauliflower, boiled potatoes and spiced meat, sausage or braised meat. The “Friggitorie” (fried-food shops) of Catania, places where most of the food served is fried, we find the Crispeddi, which can be compared to fritters, doughnuts with pizza dough or a sort of fried sandwich stuffed with anchovies and fennel.
In the province of Messina, we find the “upituni missinisi” a variety of the calzone stuffed with endives, Caciocavallo cheese, tomatoes and anchovies. We also find the focaccia alla messinese that, in its original version, contained the same ingredients. In the province of Syracuse, most particularly in Solarino and Sortino, we find the pizzolo (in Sicilian pizzòlu), which is nothing other than a stuffed pizza. In the Raguse Province, particularly around the Hyblaean mountains, we find the scaccia, stuffed pizza very similar to the scacciata of Catania.
On the slopes of Etna, at Zafferana Etnea and at Viagrande, we find another Sicilian pizza, the fried calzone in a croissant shape with fresh tuma and anchovies. The tuma, typical Sicilian cheese, absolutely faithful to the recipe barring a difference between pepato (peppered cheese), is not aged and contains no salt, which is why it is sold only a few days after fabrication and cannot be kept for long.
But even if you haven’t time to taste it, don’t worry, that just gives you another good reason to come back!0