5 senses culinary experience in Taormina, learning how to prepare simple Sicilian traditional dishes from A to Z
Today we Isolane are approaching the Sicilian culinary traditions by putting our hands in the dough and living a 5 senses experience, rich in the scents and colors of our land.
We are in Taormina, and we are welcomed by Stefano, one of the owners of a very nice and welcoming restaurant where today, we will have our cooking lesson. After the initial greetings, we are entrusted to the care of Giovanni who accompanies us to the old market of Taormina, as he usually does with his customers, to buy the raw materials that will be used in the dishes.
Once at the market, Giovanni shows us the stalls from where they buy all their fresh goods, and from where today, we will buy all the ingredients needed to cook a typical Sicilian Sunday lunch. We start from the fish counter and choose two sea bass, some swordfish, and fresh sardines, then move on to the cheese counter, buy an excellent ricotta “fascedda” that we will combine with vegetables; and it is precisely at the fruit and vegetable counter that we end the tour of the market, buying zucchini and tomatoes that will be used for our dishes. We say goodbye to the vendors who welcomed us with great joy and we head towards the restaurant where we will start cooking our lunch.
After a good coffee, we are immediately adorned with a kitchen apron, and placed in front of a large table with lots of flour and dough, where we are asked to create bread shapes using our imagination. Once the creative work is completed, we bake with the classic baker’s shovel.
Waiting for the bread to cook, we begin to knead: flour, water, and love! We must create a compact pasta and then take pride in making the characteristic Sicilian macaroni with spindles. The pasta is ready and we begin to slide our hands between pasta and underwire … and voilà the macaroni is ready! We check the bread that is already cooked, take it out of the oven. We then enjoy an aperitif, with the hot bread (the one we just made) oil, cheese, salami, and lots of good white and red wine.
Feeling very merry we return to the stove to prepare the “Norma” sauce for our macaroni, the beccafico sardines in two variants, first with tomato sauce and capers and then “white” ones cooked on lemon leaves. We will also prepare the sea bass in salt, the swordfish rolls, the parmigiana that can never be missing from a Sicilian summer table, and, finally, the zucchini flowers filled with fresh ricotta, rolled in batter and fried. Let’s start by cooking the tomato sauce with filleted fried eggplants, a brief sauté to mix everything, and the “Norma” sauce for macaroni is ready. Let’s move on to the sea bass, already cleaned and washed, we stuff it with a sprig of rosemary, a few slices of lemon and orange. We make a mixture of water and salt with which we completely cover the fish; to decorate we also create a drawing on the salt bed. The fish is ready to be baked. Now let’s focus on the beccafico sardines, first preparing the sauce with cherry tomatoes, capers, pine nuts, sultanas, and tomato sauce. We let it cook a little, while we compact the “masculini” (sardines) with a crumb filling topped with parsley and eggs. Once this is done, we flour each one well and cook in the sauce we prepared earlier. We continue with the last fish dish: swordfish rolls, breading, rolling, and inserting slices of zucchini, orange, and lemon on the skewers, ready to be baked!
From fish to vegetables, and we start to prepare the parmigiana: first, a layer of fried aubergines, a little tomato sauce, chunks of mozzarella, fragrant basil, and lots of parmesan, and we continue with another layer until our parmigiana is ready! This is also placed in the oven for cooking. Finally, let’s move on to the zucchini flowers that we fill with fresh ricotta, we roll in batter, made with water and flour, and fry in hot olive oil until golden brown.
Our lunch is ready and we too are ready to taste these delicacies prepared with our own hands, of course, guided by Giovanni who throughout the lesson, showed us kindness and professionalism, revealing small secrets of the kitchen. Satisfied with the good work we managed to do in such a short time, we sit at the table and start our lunch, toasting to us and to the beautiful experience we have lived.
At the end of the meal, we are rewarded with a wonderful dessert and with the delivery of our well-deserved certificate of participation, directly from the hands of the owner.
Would you like to know how the dishes we prepared tasted? Amazing!!!
We are ready for a new experience… and you?