Thursday, August 15, 2013

Arancini Taorminesi and how I cook

Arancini Taorminesi  on *sparklingly  |  http://sparklingly.blogspot.com
{  Arancini, before  }

The first time I bit into an arancino it was a massive disappointment. I had finally arrived in Sicily via the overnight boat train from Reggio Calabria to Messina and then down the coastline to Taormina-Giardini Naxos before taking a bus up into the hilltop perch of Taormina proper.

The view, the streets, my goodness, the people!—it was all glorious, beautiful, magical.

But that first taste of Sicily in the form of an arancino obtained from the very first tavola calda my panicky, hunger-stricken eyes set upon, was oily, gummy, and burnt.

Years later I get a huge kick out of eating proper Sicilian, nay, Taorminesi, arancini made in my own house, by my very own Sicilian (procured on that initial trip). True, the view from my apartment isn't quite the same, but crunching on these rotund pockets of bliss without purchasing a plane ticket isn't too shabby, either.

Arancini take their name from arancia, the Italian word for "orange". These adorable, portly (and portable!) little balls of rice are filled with any number of things, depending on where you find yourself. They always have cooked rice and mozzarella/pecorino tucked inside, but the ingredients that come next vary—you might find ragù (tomato meat sauce) or béchamel or peas or eggplant or some combination of those, or something entirely different. Regardless of what's concealed within, arancini are true Sicilian street food, made to munch on while standing at a bar or a vendor's stall.

Other regions of Italy have similar balls of goodness, like Rome's suppli.

The arancini from R's hometown, though, are a wonder unto themselves, being filled with rice that's run through with pesto al pistachio, a heady pesto made from the famed pistachio of Bronte, near Mt. Etna. The nuttiness is spectacular.

But, they take a quite a lot of doing to create, especially at home with our very limited counter space, so it's not often that we have them. Thankfully, R has finally seen the beauty of making extra, so now he takes a portion of the formed arancini and wraps them for safekeeping in the freezer and we can enjoy his hard work for a few more weeks.

Which is how we came to be tucking into a plate of these this past Sunday evening.

Arancini Taorminesi + a knitted napkin on *sparklingly  |  http://sparklingly.blogspot.com
{  Arancini, after with a handmade knit cotton napkin }

There was just enough for a flirty taste, so I tossed together a salad to accompany our dinner. The fridge was a little sparse, though, so I made do, which is how I cook. I'm not one to follow recipes—I typically get ideas and inspiration from them, but hardly ever wait until I have all the right ingredients, nor do I measure the ones I do have. I'm not afraid to substitute or estimate—sometimes it works out perfectly, but there have been some rather lackluster dishes to come out of my kitchen thanks to my lack of patience and unwillingness to follow someone else's directions.

That's okay, though—this salad was one of the winners: roughly chopped romaine + red onion marinated in an olive oil and white vinegar bath to mellow its sharpness + wedges of apricot + hefts of mozzarella + a few shreds of fresh chili + a generous grind of black pepper + a sprinkle of salt = the perfect accompaniment to the enveloping crunch of a well-made arancino.

4 comments :

  1. My mouth is watering like you have no idea.

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    Replies
    1. As mine will soon be when your dinner party kicks off! ;)

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  2. Agreed. There is no better way to eat oranccini then import a real Sicilian to make it for your right in your kitchen.... well done!

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XOXO,
J.