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Sicily's flavors: the Sfincione of Palermo

Sfincione, a leavened pastry that tells the story, tradition and culture of Palermo's gastronomy, with its rustic, tall and fluffy appearance and its intense and lively flavors just like Sicily itself. It is considered a signature specialty of the Sicilian capital's street food, which has always delighted the palates of Palermitans and others.

Sfincione is truly a treat that cannot be resisted and probably recalls in the childhood memories of some people the so-called "Sfincionaro," the one who roamed the streets of the city with his three-wheeler shouting: "Chi cciàvuru! Càvuru, càvuru," which in Sicilian means "What a scent! Hot, hot."

Where was Sfincione born?

It is said that it was the nuns of the Monastery of San Vito in Palermo around the 18th century who created the Sfincione. The Franciscan nuns, on the occasion of the festivities, had the idea of preparing a dish different from the usual bread that was eaten every day and to enrich it they decided to add to the dough a series of typical products of the peasant tradition: tomatoes, onions, anchovies, Sicilian caciocavallo cheese and oregano.

The origin of its name

The origin of the name "Sfincione" is not certain but theories refer to the term "sponge," which recalls the fluffiness and consistency of its dough. Since it is a poor dish that can be easily made with few ingredients, it eventually spread to home cooking, where housewives would prepare it at Christmas time or during the engagement party at the bride's house.

Over time, it became so popular that it earned the title of Palermo's premier street food, sold in the squares, on carts at street corners and in the city's markets, and became so important in Sicilian gastronomic culture that it was included in the list of traditional agricultural food products (PAT).

There is also a white variant, the white Sfincione of Bagheria, which is typical of the eponymous town and calls for the addition of tuma ("fresh ricotta" or cottage cheese) and breadcrumbs instead of tomato sauce.

We leave you with the recipe of Sfincione by Cesarina Rosa Maria from Palermo, prepared just as it was made in her parents' house.

Try it, it will win you over at the first bite!

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