I recently joined some friends on a trip around eastern Sicily. From Rome we flew to Catania, the second largest city in Sicily, and drove to Siracusa about a half hour south of the airport. Upon arriving at our hotel, as it was already past one o’clock, we quickly walked to the market nearby in Ortigia, the oldest part of Siracusa, which, in around 500BC, was an ancient Greek city and the home of Archimedes (Eureka! I found it!).
We arrived too late to see the market at full swing, but I managed to find a delicious panino (sandwich) of Sicilian cheeses. The bread, a small baguette in appearance but nothing like a French baguette as it wasn’t crusty but rather soft, was first sprinkled with olive oil and dusted with dried oregano. It added a lot of flavor to my sandwich. Something I will be trying at home.
We went back to the market early the next morning when all the stalls were over-flowing with produce, herbs and spices, and lots of fish and shellfish, not surprisingly as Siracusa sits on the Mediterranean Ocean. In fact, swordfish or spada, as it is called in Italian, is one of the principle fishes of Sicily, and figures prominently in Sicilian cuisine.
Swordfish is hardly the only Sicilian specialty. The wealth of Sicily’s agriculture includes tomatoes, small cherry tomatoes as well as what seems like an infinite number of other tomatoes in a variety of shapes and sizes, lemons, oranges that include the deep red ‘blood’ oranges for juice, and the wonderful eating oranges some of which has red in the flesh as well, almonds, capers, herbs most importantly oregano, and fish of too many varieties to count.