by Nunzio Romano
Sweet and refreshing, granita is the queen of the Sicilian summer.
Some delicacies, although prepared and consumed in various parts of Italy, often become the symbol of a particular city or region: this is the case of pizza, tagliatelle, pesto, and, in this case, granita.
It was first prepared several centuries ago with the ice collected from Mount Etna, and it is now part of the gastronomic culture of the inhabitants of Sicily.
As a result a ritual has developed around the making of granita, with sacred and immutable rules that condemn those who do not follow them, as “heretics”. Many Sicilians now could not even begin to imagine their summer days without a good Sicilian granita accompanied by a “brioche”, a kind of bread made with sweet dough, yeast and egg.
This attachment towards the granita often leads to some excessive rigidity of thought : if you find yourself talking of granita with an inhabitant of the island he will ensure you that it is absolutely impossible to find “the true granita” outside the boundaries of the region and, indeed many will tell you how the original can only be found in their city, or even in their village.
Even though this theories are certainly an exaggeration, on the other hand there is no doubt that centuries of experience in preparing the Sicilian granita makes it unique.
Also the rivalry between towns have some reason to exist: even if establishing the absolute goodness of a preparation is absurd, on the other hand it is also true that there are some substantial differences between the different areas of the island in preparing granita.
Notoriously the “best” granita comes from the eastern part of the region, but even among these there are substantial differences.
In the north-eastern area is considered a good granita those with a semi-liquid consistency and the most common flavors are lemon, strawberry and coffee, the latter often accompanied by a generous addition of cream.
At the south, the almond granita rules while the texture is usually more dense and somewhat similar to a sorbet.
One can choose between various flavors: mandarin, orange, chocolate, mulberry, peach, watermelon, and so on, and the highlight of pistachio flavor popular mainly in the Etna area .
The important thing, though, is to enjoy granita in peace and quiet, maybe sitting at a café taking benefit from a little breeze during the hot summer days.
Tags: Foods of Sicily, granita, pistacchio, sicily, summer