The Arabian settlers transformed the coast and even the lowering offshore into a fragrant garden, by planting orange, Mandarin and lemon, cane-sugar, anise and many other spices and jasmine bushes 1200 years ago. The Arabs also brought rice from the Orient. For special celebrations the noblemen themselves ordered snow from the top of the Etna, in order to mix it with good-tasting essences from lemons, oranges and blooms. It was called „sciarba' t "(„schárbat ") from which we enjoy today on hot days the so-called „Sorbet ", while the Sicilians call it „gránite".
Apart from many other culinary achievements of the Sicilians, the Cassata is probably the most classical sweet food of the island with Arab origin, also the fish soup refined with eastern spices as it is served in Trapani, and naturally the Couscous in all it's many tasty forms.
They have been eating salted Ricotta in Sicily for nearly 2400 years, imported from the Greeks who also brought along the honey, preserved olives, grilled lamb and also introduced wine to the islands inhabitants. The Romans, who 2000 years ago spread onto the largest part of the island, brought the filled Sepiolini (little octopus-rings), or the „maccu ", a purée from sow beans, which are soft-cooked with spices and aromatized water. The purée, which is to be only found in the centre of the island today, is finally sprinkled with fresh olive oil and eaten with bread or noodles.
The meat as the most outstanding meal for an island citizen is the expressive rich "veal-roulade" named „farsumagru ",called in former times „rollo "(of „roule "): Referring to the fact that this piece of gloss of the Sicilian kitchen became famous, when the "Anjou" family prevailed on the island. Although the Frenchmen remained only for a few decades, the "veal-roulade" survived until today, as well as „ancidda brudacchiata ": ale, which is cooked in dissolved saffron with ginger, cinnamon, spice carnations and in wine. The Spanish, who were settled for the longes time in Sicily's history, introduced the tomato, Aubergine and potato from South America.
The art of cooking in all it's details has played an important role in Sicilian history. Around the time of Christ's birth a Sicilian man called Laoduco, opened a kind of hotel management school with the approval of the Greek rule. The school offered to train you as a cook in return of payment. Also the probably eldest example in the world of a cook-book (Prescriptions to prepare) originates from Syracuse, Sicily.
There is a documentation to the subject 'the Sicilian cook', written over 2000 years ago by the Greek writing Sicilian named Miteco. The occasion was a dispute over the chef Trimalcione who probably came from Gela and about whom much of Greece argued his cooking to be too refined. Arguments about chefs continued until modern times, even during bad times no spiritual or noble man ever wanted to do without a good kitchen hence such disputes have survived.
Although only some statements referring to the variety of the Sicilian kitchen exist, we would nevertheless note that the Sicilian kitchen is probably the oldest in Italy and very probably one of the most varied kitchens in the world. Particularly in Palermo you find these varieties at every step and turn, be it whilst strolling through the markets of the old part of town, in the famous bar „Santoro "close Porta Nuova, in „Mazzara" with the Piazza Ungharia or in elegant „spinnato"in the pedestrian precinct between via Ruggiero the Settimo and via Roma. There are several restaurants that strive successfully to maintain these culinary traditions.
So for instance in Palermo „Lo Scuderia "(Viale del Fante 9), „Gourmand' s (via della Libertá 37e) or "Friend' s bar" (via Brunelleschi 138); in Monreale "La Botte"; in Santa Flavia "La Muciara - Nello El Greco"; in Cefalù "Ostaria del Duomo" or "La Botte"; in Trapani "Taverna Paradiso" (Lungo Mare Alighieri 22); in Enna "Centrale" (Piazza 6 dicembre 9); in Agrigento "le Caprice" (strada panoramica dei Templi 51); in Syrakus "Archimede" (via Gemmellaro 8) or "Don Camillo" (via Maestranza 92/100). Finally we would still like to mention three restaurants in the suburbs of Palermo: First on „the Delfino "in Sferracavallo and the „ Gabbiano "in the bathing village Mondello, both for their exeptionally fine fish kitchen. Further to this the Charleston in Mondello is one of the most beautifully located hotels in this world, a white radiating Art Nouveau hotel, which was opened 1913. It is built on a pier in front of the one kilometre-long beach, with the Monte Pellegrino in the East and to the west the Monte Gallo.