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Cucina Paradiso: The Heavenly Food of Sicily

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The island of Sicily is a sun-drenched jewel splashed by the surrounding azure waters of the Tyrrhenian, Ionian, and Mediterranean seas. Known since antiquity as the island in the sun, it has a distinctly "eastern" air in its dusty and languid towns, its baroque cities, its bougainvillea-laced coastal ring. Sicily's position as a Mediterranean crossroads has meant that over the years cultures of remarkable brilliance have flourished and endured there. One such culture, the medieval Arabs, ruled Sicily for nearly ...
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New York, NY 1992 Hard cover New ed. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Paper over boards. 274 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

The island of Sicily is a sun-drenched jewel splashed by the surrounding azure waters of the Tyrrhenian, Ionian, and Mediterranean seas. Known since antiquity as the island in the sun, it has a distinctly "eastern" air in its dusty and languid towns, its baroque cities, its bougainvillea-laced coastal ring. Sicily's position as a Mediterranean crossroads has meant that over the years cultures of remarkable brilliance have flourished and endured there. One such culture, the medieval Arabs, ruled Sicily for nearly 250 years, and in their wake left striking influences on the architecture, agriculture, and cuisine. In Cucina Paradiso, Clifford Wright chronicles his fascinating quest for what he affectionately calls the "lost paradise" of Sicilian cuisine, the culinary heritage of the Arabs in Sicily. From his first visit there in 1983, he discovered that the sights, smells, and sounds of Sicily reverberate with an Arab feeling, an aura that is not a mirage but a story waiting to be told. Reflecting his two loves - research and cooking - he set about finding and recording this delicious legacy. Here is a cuisine of exotic ingredients - saffron, capers, golden raisins, pine nuts, orange zest, fresh anchovy - combined in a heavenly way, providing the reader with recipes that are the key to this delicious paradise. Searching for traces of Arab culinary influence while meandering through Sicily, Wright visited small trattorias and private homes and sampled such dishes as Sasizzedi Aggrassati (beef rolls stuffed with pecorino cheese, parsley, golden raisins, and pine nuts, and sauteed in Marsala wine) and Gamberetti al Pomodoro (a savory dish of shrimp, tomatoes, capers, raisins, celery, and pine nuts). He discovered that Sicilians do not agree as to what, exactly, the Arab influence on the cuisine is, but they do agree there are some common characteristics: the absence of antipasti, the piatto unico, or one-pot meal; the confectionery; the blending of nuts or breadcrumb
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Researched by Middle East scholar and food enthusiast Wright ( After the Palestine-Israel War ), this fascinating volume clarifies the mystifying distinction between the cooking of Sicily and other regions of Italy. The reason for the distinction--as he convincingly presents it--was the medieval conquest of Sicily by Arabs whose ``culture remained there intact for four hundred years.'' According to Wright, the Arabs are responsible for, among other things, the creation of the Sicilian ``one-pot'' meal, a ``fondness for stuffed foods . . . shared by the Sicilians,'' and the introduction of rice, of which ``some food writers even argue that the famous Risotto alla Milanese is an Arab-Sicilian invention transplanted north.'' The resulting collection of recipes reflects Sicily's exotic heritage and includes a mint-infused, Arab-style penne, grilled beef rolls with pecorino, currants and pine nuts and watermelon pudding studded with semisweet chocolate bits, pistachios and candied orange peel. This suggestive study of ``the food Sicilians call cucina arabo-sicula '' decorously removes another delicious layer of Italy's riches. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671769260
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/1/1992
  • Pages: 274

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