Sunday lunch in Sicily is not a simple lunch, is war. Behind the figure of the sweet and old grandmother, there’s a deadly machine capable of creating sumptuous Sicilian dishes, in exaggerated amounts. It is well known, Sicilian grandmothers, when organizing Sunday lunches, they have to prepare a quantity of food that can actually satisfy an entire nation. Considering that Sicilian families are usually quite big, it is very easy to see them cooking 3 or 4 kg of pasta.
But let’s go step by step: what exactly does a SSL™ (Sicilian Sunday Lunch) includes? Without going too much into details, I’ll give you some example based on my personal experience.
The grandmother usually gives the green light between 12:00 and 13:00 – it is recommended to arrive with an empty stomach (you don’t want to give up right after the starters right?). You sit, and you wait for everyone to arrive. Once everyone is there, grandma will shout the usual “Buon Appetito” and everyone can enjoy the starters!
Generally, anywhere else on earth, a normal lunch would start with a simple appetizer, something that slightly opens the appetite. In Sicily, the concept is exactly the opposite: the starter could well be considered as a full lunch in any other culture, but not on Sicilian soil. But it’s also wrong to talk about starter as it is only one… I would rather talk about starters, plural: caponata (here the recipe!), hams (Prosciutto Cotto, Parma Ham, Mortadella! ), cheeses ( Primosale, Tuma, Buffalo Mozzarella!) , various fried vegetables, dried tomatoes and garlic eggplants. Add bread in quantity and here we go!
– Main Course / Pasta –
The queen of the main course in my hometown (Palermo) is one and only one: her majesty the Pasta al forno (oven baked pasta – recipe here!). The type of pasta used, rings (for their ring shape), are typical of Sicily, and even the famous brand of pasta “Barilla” classifies them as “Anelletti Siciliani” (Sicilian rings). Baked pasta usually has 2 main variants, which are distinguished by the amount of ingredients used.
The first version, what many define as “light”, almost dietetic, only includes pasta with ragù bolognese and mozzarella. The second version, however, is devastating to the stomach, but I put it in my TOP 5 of favorite foods when I go on holiday: ragù bolognese, mozzarella, fried eggplant, boiled eggs, ham and mortadella. Actually, you can put almost everything you want in there, and the recipe obviously varies around Sicily. Both versions will kill you, given the amount of it that you’ll get from the Grandma, so simply point to the one with the taste that you are most comfortable with.
-Main Course / Meat –
The second main course usually tends to be simple, but is accompanied by the rest of the starters, plus some extra sides: Pan fried steaks with baked potatoes, various salads (the famous “Pantesca Salad” that you can find here), baked or fried chicken, aubergines with a ham and mozzarella (strictly deep fried!).
If you have survived so far, you’re my heroes, and you deserve a medal. But if you do not want to offend the grandmother and other diners/commit a crime (yes, refusing food is same as committing a crime in Sicily!) then you can not refuse an abundant Cassata Siciliana slice, accompanied by a perfect Italian espresso coffee. Variants to the cassata (or in addition) can be the Sicilian Cannoli, with a quantity that stands on 2-3 per person.
Now that you are full as an American turkey during Thanksgiving Day, as is well known in Sicily, full belly wants rest! The original Sicilian Sunday lunch must absolutely finish with a nap, to help digestion! And it’s with a nice sleep that the SSL™ ends, an experience that leaves you physically debilitated, but with a great smile in the face!