The foods in this
section include bread, flatbread stuffed with various ingredients like sfinciuni, cudduruni, ‘mpanata, scacciata, single-serving turnovers,
cassateddi stuffed with vegetables
and/or meat, and other Sicilian specialties.
Those specialties, well liked and part of the popular cuisine, are
considered convenience food because they are easy to carry, and thus practical to take to work or school for
lunch. They are delicious hot or at room temperature.
Bread dough is the
primary element to all of the above-mentioned delicacies; wheat is the main ingredient to make
history in the Neolithic Age, around 10,000 BC, at the time when humans began to domesticate animals, cultivate
the land, make metal tools, cook, build houses and burial sites, etc.
found in tombs dating from the sixth and fifth centuries BC in Egypt along the Nile Valley and in
tombs in Abyssinia, where it is believed that this grain was first cultivated. Later, wheat replaced the popular
cereals, millet, oats and barley because of the high yield and also because wheat was better suited to different
The cultivation of wheat made a great change in the economy of all
Mediterranean and Middle East countries, including Assyria, Babylonia and Greece, where agriculture was the
main economic resource. It was at that time that the staple foods of these people—millet, oats and
barley—were replaced by wheat, which became one of the most important and principal basic
Herodotus, who was
born in 484 BC, wrote that bread yeast was experienced first by Egyptian priests, who spread the use of this
miracle, calling it that due to the fact that when the dough became sour, the bread rose and swelled during baking,
making it more palatable, soft and of longer preservation. They also observed that, “miraculously,” the dough increased in volume, that would form
an infinite number of cavities when cooked, that the acid odor would disappear once baked, and that the bread
produced was soft and pleasant.
Every city and each country had different qualities of bread. By adding
honey, flavors, seeds, nuts, meat, fish and other local products, a great variety of breads, cakes and sweets
were created, including many specialties still present in Sicilian
It became customary for every family to bake bread and have a
starter of sourdough to be used for baking. In every home, the sourdough was kept and guarded religiously.
Bread gained a high religious value when Jesus Christ, on his Last Meal, blessed the bread and said,
“Hoc est corpus
meum,” “This is my Body.”
in Sicily is made using various methods including different grades of wheat flour, baking with dry or moist
heat and shaping it into different forms to achieve a more or less crispy crust and a singular
Baked food and bread are present on every Sicilian table every
day. Panini, is a fast and simple sandwich made of a
small piece of bread or roll stuffed with cold cuts or leftovers: convenient and easy to make for an
enjoyable lunch or snack, to take to work or include in the kids’ lunch box.