Especially for food, a lot could be said about how wheat is used in Sicily. In short, wheat means pasta, bread, pizza, pastries etc. Every place has to have one food with a special meaning. The answer for Sicily is… Bread! It is probably the most ancient food. In the past, it was depicted as a fundamental presence in human life. Bread still has the same important role, even though everything changes over time. So, we are still considering bread as a symbol of richness and wellness. Today, bread is cooked with different shapes and sizes. Every single type of bread is used in different way according to its shape. But the most common shape is like a long loaf of bread which is usually cut to make the famous dish called ‘bruschetta’. It is a typical dish made of grilled bread, oil and tomatoes. Traditionally, bread and crumbs are used to collect all the food you have left in a plate.
About ancient stories
You should consider bread not only as a food component in Sicilian kitchens. Every day it is consumed, cooked and eaten according to a series of gestures. First, there are still many things to know: if there is any bread left at the end of your lunch, you have to keep it for later, for other uses. Then, at the end of your lunch or dinner, if you didn’t finish your piece of bread, please never put it upside down on the table. Last but not least, it is absolutely prohibited to throw away the bread. if it is not edible anymore and you need to get rid of it, please kiss before you throw it in the trash! In general, bread is always present on Sicilian tables.
The traditional celebrations
Visiting San Biagio Platani could teach you a point of view about the strong relationship between religion and life. It is an ancient village between Agrigento and Sicani Mountains. Every year, residents prepare bread before Easter time. As tradition requires, the main church is set up with a giant bread-shaped ornament. By the way, have you heard about this before? It is really hard to image, but it’s real. The arches and the Christian symbols are completely covered by the bread. This is the reason why the main church is also known as the ‘cathedral of bread’. In this case, many ornaments of crust bread reproduce the sense of the richness of spring. In general, during Easter time, all citizens open their houses and laboratories doors and ask everybody in the streets to get inside and have a taste. Also myths and legends come to our minds while talking about the topic. It is said that the women of the village would pray while their husbands worked.
Celebration of wheat
During the wheat cycle, from September to August, they prayed and sang words which blessed the soil and the farmers every day. Reaching Raddusa, 50 kilometres away from Catania, some ritual moments are still visible today. Here in this area, if you want to stop, there are many choices in the villas in Val di Noto. This is the case of the threshing of wheat. It is depicted as a precious and old method. It occurs during ‘the celebration of wheat’ from 8th to 11th of September. This particular action consists in threshing wheat with horses. In the past, farmers would collect the wheat in a big pile on the own field. Then the horses would crash the pile of wheat several times until it would become flat. Today, Raddusa represents one of the best countrysides where you can taste excellent pasta and bread in Sicily.
Also don’t forget to visit Salemi, especially when the spring arrives. There, the habitants celebrate Saint Joseph on the 19th of March in a singular way. All churches and local shops are open. The streets are filled with stands placed between house doors and pavements. Join this great party for two or three days staying in family Villa Aurora in Salemi or villas in Selinunte, or wherever you prefer in the Sicily luxury villas along the entire Trapanese area. All around you there are colourful drapes, flowers and special dishes. Many stands normally show different kinds of bread. The best way to name these long tables would be “altars” actually, because – according to the tradition – the bread placed on them is holy. During Saint Joseph day, these types of bread represent sacred artworks. Each piece of bread is a symbol and a significant object. Animals, fish, plants and everything else living in this world. A particular meaning is dedicated to one single dish with a big spike, a special tribute for the richness of Earth.
This article was written by Giulia Sofi.
Today, she creates editorial contents for cultural magazines and exhibition project.
Her articles have been published in some art magazine like CityRivista and Insideart.