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Sicily Food Experience; Shop, Cook, Eat!

“Food is more essential than clothes”

is the Sicilian proverb and after thirteen dominations this Italian island has taken the best of each culture and created a food culture second to none. It is right to say that there is no part of Italy where you can eat badly but on the island of Sicily is it not only about the eating and tasting of food and drink but the build up, the anticipation the talk at lunch about dinner and the careful selection and preparing of fish, natural, local and seasonal foods that sets Sicily apart on any food map.

If you are a foodie and looking to be inspired, to allow your senses to experience something new and tantalising then you are on the right page. There are food experiences and then there are food experiences. Here in Siracusa, the city south of Catania on the eastern part of the island, is an island, actually a peninsula of Siracusa, named Ortigia Island where local chefs shop, cook and eat, exactly like the locals, day in day out without pain and effort but with excitement and anticipation. Chefs opens their kitchen to share their love of food with visitors but also offer culinary experiences that only chefs know how to create. From local Siracusan born chefs offering a unique gastronomical services since for over a decade to grandmas literally opening their kitchens to tourist with customers flying in from all over the planet to share and experience home cooking and family run restaurant cooking: shop, cook and eat experiences in Siracusa.

Sicilian Food Experience: Traditional and seasonal, local ingredients in Ortigia, Siracusa
Sicilian Food Experience: Traditional and seasonal, local ingredients in Ortigia, Siracusa

It is one thing to eat a meal, and another to learn to cook it but to really appreciate the food and meal is another thing altogether and for this reason the chefs start s by taking you on a mediterranean journey, starting at the source.

The ingredients.

Siracusa is dived into the new and old town and Ortigia island is where the food experience commences. It is a small and charming market that one can actually hear before seeing. Siracusan fishmongers, greengrocers and homeware stall owners hollering out the days offers. The walk to the market usually commences at the place of cooking - restaurant or home in Ortigia where the three to five hour experience commences, depending on the experience that you chose. Through tiny alleys and picturesque streets, past typical Sicilian postcard scenes of hanging laundry and baroque buildings, the walk to the market is nourishing in itself. The chefs and local cooks, having grown up with the other locals is part of the daily Siracusan life and will guide you around the monuments with passion as if also seeing the island for the first time. The market, shopping part of the Sicilian food experience lasts about an hour, as even the the market is small, time is taken to touch, smell, taste and speak about each ingredient to be selected for the day. This is not for show but part of the daily preparation in Sicily for cooking where eating is comparable to a sacred ritual. Time is also given for taking photos of the charming stalls and stall owners who quite often are only selling a few ingredients as Sicily has the culture of seasonal and local foods. The selection if ingredients is dependent on what there is in the market which adds to the excitement of the shooting part of the experience as you will only really know what you are going to cook and eat once you arrive at the market. Considerations and preferences are taken for fish, meat or vegetarian diets and then the ingredients can be carefully selected and combined. With some food experiences, after the shopping experience there is time to stay in the market before heading back to the restaurant so that you can experience one of the best known food places in the market - Bordieri - another family run shop and restaurant that creates the most talked about tasty, colourful fresh and satisfying cheese and meat boards, panini and ricotta cheese. It is a god send to arrive here after the incredible senses stimulation of the food on the market stalls and for sure you would have by now been offered a taste of pretty much everything from local Siracusan cheeses, to olives, to tomatoes and cured meats. The stop at Bordieri is ‘aperitivo’ time - the time before lunch where the right foods and drinks will open your stomach before eating your full meal.

Back to the home or restaurant kitchen where you will be given the correct attire for cooking and shown how to prepare and cook both classic and new dishes. At each step there will be time for questions and also getting involved. The participation is as much as you wish, where on offer is a true experience of cooking with real Sicilians and not just a formal and cold cooking class. Food can be personalised and the magic is where suddenly three different dishes are created. There will always be a pasta course, a main course and/or a salad course for both dinner and also lunch sessions. Usually, each one is accompanied by wine and a digestive coffee (no milk!).

The eat part of the food experience is at the house or the restaurant and the meals to be eaten already hold a story before one bite has been taken. This is the Siracusan food experience offered by the passionate foodies of Siracusa - the journey from the selection to the first bite, the sensory memory that will be remembered forever in mind and on the tongue.

For bookings: one week in advance is recommended in high season April to November at varying costs per person, usually including all foods, drinks, aperitivi in the market and three to five hours of food selection, cooking training and eating!

The hotel takes no responsibility for bookings with the Sicilian food experiences.

Algilà Ortigia Charme Hotel 4 Star Superior

93 Via Vittorio Veneto I-96100 Siracusa, Italy Phone (Italy) +39 0931 465186


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