ARANCINO … ALL SICILIAN STREET FOOD

Those who know and love my land, Sicily, cannot fail to appreciate the rice arancini, one of the most typical examples of street food of the region’s gastronomic tradition, sold everywhere, on stalls, in bakeries, in markets, in fry shops.
Arancini can take a rounded shape (they are called “arancine” in Palermo and in the western part of Sicily) or mainly conical (“arancini” in Catania and in the eastern part).
The debate about the name seems to come to no conclusion because there is no official evidence to prove its correct pronunciation. The name derives from the shape, similar to that of an orange.
The origins and history of the Sicilian Arancino are controversial. This food has a popular tradition and has undergone many transformations over the course of history. The various versions (pointed arancino or round arancina) that today we enjoy with so much love are nothing more than the result of these variations.
It all began during the Arab domination (827-1091), which in 200 years brought culture, poetry, arts, beautiful monuments and, in particular, cuisine to the island. The use of spices, sugar, perfumes are just some of the characteristics of Sicilian cuisine that have a strong Arab imprint as well as cassata, cous cous, granita and arancino.
In particular, as regards the history of the Sicilian Arancino, it is certain that the Arabs used to eat the timbale of rice flavored with saffron. In fact, during banquets, a tray loaded with saffron rice was placed in the center of the table and consumed by balling it up in a fist and seasoning it with lamb meat and vegetables.
For the breading, however, we have to wait a few more years. Frederick II, at the age of 4, became king of the Kingdom of Sicily (1197) after the death of his father Henry VI. Frederick was the most innovative and intelligent emperor that the Sicilian land has ever known. The invention of the breading of arancini is often traced back to him. The crunchy breading, in fact, would have ensured excellent conservation of the rice and seasoning, as well as better portability. In fact, it is assumed that, initially, the arancino was mainly considered a take-away food, to be consumed during work in the countryside or hunting trips.
The most popular arancini in Sicily are those with meat sauce (with peas and carrots), those with butter (with mozzarella and ham) and those with spinach (also seasoned with mozzarella), while in Catania the “arancino alla Catanese” are widespread with aubergines and with pistachio from Bronte.
The semantic dispute between arancina or arancino, as already mentioned, has always divided the cities of Palermo and Catania: according to the Palermitans, the symbol of Sicilian street food is the “arancina” with its round shape, while the people of Catania believe that the real name is “arancino” with a pointed shape inspired by the shape of Etna.
The Accademia della Crusca puts an end to the lexical diatribe arancino with O, arancina with A. Both definitions can be used.
And in any case, whether it is called arancina or whether it is called arancino, this special meal represents a set of flavors and a combination of ingredients that together create something of really good.

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Autore:

Giuseppe Panebianco

Classe:

II A – Furci Siculo

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