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  • Writer's pictureThe Sicilian Wanderer

The Light of Sicily: Celebrating Saint Lucia with Traditional Cuccìa and arancini


cuccìa recipe

Hello, travel and culture enthusiasts! Today, let's dive into a fascinating Sicilian tradition that shines with history and flavor: the feast of Saint Lucia and its iconic dish, Cuccìa.

On December 13th, Sicily lights up with celebrations for Saint Lucia, the patron saint of Syracuse. This festival is particularly heartfelt throughout the island, where streets fill with lights, music, and prayer. But what makes this day so special? The answer lies in a delicious and meaningful dish: Cuccìa.

Legend has it that in 1646, during a severe famine in Syracuse, a shipment of wheat arrived at the port exactly on December 13th, the day dedicated to Saint Lucia. In gratitude and hope, the Syracusans cooked the freshly arrived wheat without grinding it, creating what we now know as Cuccìa.

This sweet, simple yet rich in meaning, combines cooked wheat, ricotta, chocolate, and candied fruits, symbolizing abundance and gratitude. Each bite reminds us of Saint Lucia's miracle and the resilience of the Sicilian community.


Cuccìa Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 300g of Cuccìa wheat (pre-soaked)

  • 500g of fresh ricotta

  • 100g of sugar (or to taste)

  • Chocolate pieces or chips

  • Assorted candied fruits (orange, citron)

  • A pinch of cinnamon

Preparation:

  1. Cook the wheat in water until soft, then let it cool.

  2. In a bowl, mix the ricotta with sugar to form a smooth cream.

  3. Add the cooked wheat to the ricotta cream.

  4. Fold in the chocolate and candied fruits, mixing gently.

  5. Add a pinch of cinnamon for an aromatic touch.

  6. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Here you have it, a dish that is not just a dessert, but a living story of Sicilian culture. When you taste it, remember it's not just food, but a symbol of hope and resilience.



arancini recipe

But that's not all! For us Sicilians, another element of great importance during this celebration is savoring arancini, which now come in an array of flavors and varieties. These delicious fried rice balls are a true symbol of the island's cuisine, and their name derives from their shape and color, reminiscent of small oranges.

Arancini are a celebration of Sicilian flavors, and each bite encapsulates the history and culinary traditions of this magnificent land. From the classic ragù-filled arancini to more modern variations like mushroom or pistachio, there's an arancini for every palate.

And now, we present the recipe for traditional ragù arancini, a timeless classic:


Traditional Ragù Arancini Recipe:

Ingredients:

- 500g risotto rice (such as Arborio)

- 200g meat ragù (already prepared)

- 100g peas (already cooked)

- 100g caciocavallo or mozzarella, cut into cubes

- 2 eggs

- Flour, breadcrumbs

- Oil for frying

- Saffron

- Salt and pepper

Preparation:

1. Cook the rice in salted boiling water, adding saffron for color. Drain it al dente and let it cool.

2. In a bowl, mix the rice with one beaten egg to make it compact.

3. Take a portion of rice, flatten it on your hand, and place a bit of ragù, some peas, and a cube of cheese in the center.

4. Close the rice around the filling, forming a ball or cone.

5. Coat each arancini first in flour, then in beaten egg, and finally in breadcrumbs.

6. Fry the arancini in abundant oil until they become golden and crispy.

7. Drain them on paper towels and serve hot.


Ragù arancini are a rich and hearty dish, perfect for celebrating Saint Lucia's feast in grand style.

 

Curiosity: The Tale of Arancini and Arancine

curiosity

In Sicily, the name of the famous fried rice balls varies depending on where you are on the island. In Catania, they are commonly referred to as "arancini," in the masculine form, meaning "little oranges," due to their shape and color resembling oranges. This term is predominantly used in the eastern part of Sicily.

On the other hand, in Palermo and the western part of Sicily, they are called "arancine," in the feminine form. The gender difference in naming doesn’t have a specific historical or culinary explanation, but rather reflects the dialectical and cultural variations that characterize Italy, and Sicily in particular. These naming differences are a fascinating example of how food can be influenced and defined by the geography and history of a place.

In both cases, whether "arancini" or "arancine," these culinary delights proudly represent the rich gastronomic tradition of Sicily.



We hope you enjoyed today's journey into our cherished tradition for Saint Lucia's feast. It's a glimpse into the heart of Sicily, where history, faith, and culinary delights intertwine to create a celebration like no other. May these stories and recipes bring warmth and joy to your table, just as they do in the homes across our beautiful island. Until our next adventure, buon viaggio!




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An exceptional post today as well!

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