Tuesday, October 27, 2009

September 14, 2009 (Sicily)

Today, I didn’t try too many Sicilian foods because I was coming off my sickness from Palermo. Today I am in the town of Catania, at the base of the mythical Mt. Etna, where the best Sicilian food can (supposedly) be found; however, last night I had a very awful pasta con sarde, which was a big letdown. I’ve been wanting to try pasta con sarde, because it is the very typical Sicilian dish, so I’ll have to find it somewhere else--some place with a little more clout. I suppose I should explain why the pasta was bad: it was very, very dry, with some sort of spice and crumb mixture covering it, but actually drowning it. The pasta was a very low quality penne and there were very few sardines in it. The dill looked like it had been added a little too early, also. I think this may have been the result of a bad cook, although he looked like he might have been doing it for a while. Perhaps he was just tired of cooking it so many damn times.

The other dish I tried last night was a stockfish stew in tomatoes, capers, potatoes, onions, and peppers. The flavor of the dish was very fishy and very capery, which is what a Sicilian dish is supposed to taste like. I’m not quite sure what a stockfish is, but it was very hearty and had a chewy and satisfying texture. This chewiness is a result of the fish being first dried, then reconstituted. It was a whitefish. Overall, I really enjoyed it. If it’s true what they say about the fish here at Mount Etna—that they have to develop tougher and thus sweeter muscles because of acidic waters—then it shouldn’t be a surprise that the texture of this fish was a bit more sinewy.

At this point, it is no surprise that Sicilians use a ton of fish in their recipes.