Eating Sicily

644 TUTOR: Ros Belford (BA, MA)

Join this edible journey through Sicily, from The Odyssey to Inspector Montalbano. What makes Sicily one of the world's most fascinating places to visit, and eat, is that it has been invaded, ruled and colonized by all the major powers of the Mediterranean from Mycenaean Greeks to the Spanish Empire via Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Arabs and French. They have all left their mark, not only on the island's art, architecture, language and culture, but on its food. Spend a week getting to know the land, history, culture, mythology and people of Sicily through its food. You will have the opportunity to sample key Sicilian ingredients and learn how to add a distinctive Sicilian twist to your everyday cooking.

3 PM
PM course

Course Notes

Each day there will also be a selection of authentic Sicilian ingredients to taste. For further details, and a list of suggested reading, participants can contact Ros Belford.


Prehistoric Sicily: Cheese-making giants and the Gardens of Adonis

·Welcome, introduction

·Getting to know Sicily, Sicilians, their food and culture

·What did Homer imagine Odysseus and his men would find when they visited Sicily?

·What modern archeological sciences reveal about what prehistoric Sicilians really ate.

·Prehistoric food traditions that continue today


Tasting ricotta and making ricotta cream for cannoli


Magna Graecia: The Banquet of Philoxenus and the Ancient Greek Man from Michelin

·The Greek colonization of Sicily - and how Sicily became the gastronomic capital of the Greek Empire (Magna Graecia).

·The world's first cooking school

·The gastronomic peregrinations of Archestratus

·The Banquet of Philoxenus and ancient Greek drinking culture

·Aeschylus and the tuna massacre

·Preservation - salt and sun

·Garum - ancient and modern

·Sweeteners in the days before sugar


Making caper pesto


The Romans and the Arabs: From cabbage soup to jasmine petal ice cream

·Roman wheat plantations and twice-baked bread (still eaten today)

·The food of the rich

·The food of slaves

·The Arab conquest irrigation, sugar and citrus fruit

·Snow and the Arab art of ice cream


·Pani caliatu (twice-baked bread) served with ammogghiu - a fresh tomato pesto (without nuts)

·Sicilian jams and preserves - a selection of flavours … rose and squash, mulberry, black fig, mandarin, prickly pear, pistacchio cream, hazelnut cream…


Makinmuddica - Sicilian toasted, flavoured breadcrumbs


Deconstructing lunch: from a Shepherd to The Leopard

Today we look at two quintessential Sicilian dishes and see what stories they - and their ingredients - have to tell about Sicily. The exploration of a simple lunch will take us:

·from the world's first known pasta factory to the myth of Marco Polo

·from a 19th century sugar factory to a papal decree on cocoa

·from the belief that aubergines induced insanity to the torture of making tomato paste

·from pistacchio orchards protected by police helicopters to the X-rated sweetmeats of Renaissance convents

Finally, we'll explore the dessert menu of a banquet in Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's 'The Leopard'.


Pasta c'a pummamuredda arrustuta - arguably the tastiest, healthiest, easiest tomato sauce for pasta in existence….recipe straight from the Aeolian Islands


Feast, famine and street-food

·The special foods associated with Sicilian religious festivals

·Remarkable ingredients and Sicilian sagras (food festivals)

·Sicilian street-food from the Romans to Inspector Montalbano

·La cucina povera - from stone soup to pasta 'with the fish still at sea'

·Future trends


Making and tasting Cuccia di Santa Lucia, a traditional wheat porridge with its origins in Mesopotamian fertility rites, served on the feast of St Lucy in Syracuse


Covid safety will be easier to maintain if all participants bring their own picnic plates, a cup and cutlery. We suggest at least two plates (one for savoury tastings, one for sweet) along with knife, fork and spoon.

There will be a sink for washing up after the lesson.



Note: apart from anchovies, tuna and garum (which contains fish) all ingredients are vegetarian. If all participants are vegetarian, we can omit all fish.

Could participants please inform Ros Belford in advance of any allergies as currently we plan to use wheat and nuts.


Sicilian Food, Mary Taylor Simeti

Sicily: 2000 years of Human History, Sandra Benjamin

The Life of Luxury, Archestratus

Verdura, Viana La Place

Pani Caliatu, Susan Lord and Danilo Baroncino

Food in the Ancient World from A-Z, Andrew Dalby

Food in the Ancient World, John Wilkins and Shaun Hill

Cooking Apicius, Sally Grainger

Delizia! John Dickie

Midnight in Sicily, Peter Robb

The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons, Matthew Fort

Near a Thousand Tables, Felipe Fernandez Armesto

Course Tutor

Ros Belford


About Ros

The author of guidebooks including The Rough Guide to Sicily, The Rough Guide to Italy and The Eyewitness Guide to Rome, Ros currently writes about travel, food and hotels for the Telegraph and Conde Nast Traveller. Over the years she has written articles on travel and food for magazines and newspapers including Vogue, National Geographic Traveler, Time Out, the Observer, the Independent, The Guardian, the Telegraph, and the Sunday Times, and has made several radio programmes for the BBC - highlights were eating snake in Shanghai, frogs with Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food, and a dinner so good she never wanted it to end at the Idle Rocks in St Mawes.

A lifelong foodie, Ros lived in Sicily for twelve years, first on the Aeolian island of Salina, then on Ortigia, the historical island-centre of Syracuse. In between bringing up her daughters, she spent her time exploring Sicily through its food, tracking down exceptional home-cooks, artisan food producers, foragers, naturalists, historians and archeologists. This is how the Eating Sicily project was born.

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All courses run for 5 days

WK 1 11 Jul - 15 Jul

WK 2 18 Jul - 22 Jul

WK 3 25 Jul - 29 Jul

WK 4 1 Aug - 5 Aug

Morning Courses

9.15AM to 12.15PM

Afternoon Courses

1.45PM to 4.30PM

All Day Courses

9.15AM to 4.30PM