The Great Sicilian Breakfast .....

Sicily is where Europe ends and Africa begins. It began its history as part of Ancient Greece and soon became part of the Roman Empire. Thereafter the island was invaded by the Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, French, Spanish and Bourbons before unifying with Italy. Each conquest left its mark on the island and its cuisine, including Breakfast.

Breakfast is the first meal of the day and most often eaten early in the morning before undertaking a day’s work. Some believe it to be the most important meal of the day.

A traditional Great English breakfast includes bacon, sausage,fried poached or scrambled eggs, fried or grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms, fried bread or toast with butter and baked beans.

You will NEVER find an English breakfast in Sicily unless you beg someone to cook you one.

In these hot months in Sicily when temperatures are reaching over 40 degrees you will be thankful of “The Great Sicilian Breakfast” which is a totally Sicilian experience that you must try and once you have you will become obsessed, it is so good you will want it any time of the year and any time of the day.

Breakfast in Sicily is part of Sicilian culture and tradition ... It is a religion. 

In the 660’s AD the Arabs began their conquest of Sicily. This was very thirsty work conquering the island. They brought Sarbut (sorbetto in Italian, sherbert in English) with them and needed somewhere to chill it so they took snow from Mount Etna and stored it in caves formed by ancient lava flows and flavoured it with Sicilian lemons which are in abundance on the slopes of the volcano.

Mount Etna is like a natural freezer even in the summer, from October to March you will see snow which winter winds blow into crevices and lava caverns which become insulated by volcanic ash.

After the Arabs left Sicily the Sicilians carried on this method putting the ice into containers and that is how the granita was born.

Today’s granita is an ice cold refreshment made of water, sugar and traditionally lemon juice but these days there is an amazing choice of flavours including chocolate, almond, strawberry, coffee, pistachio, mulberry and whatever seasonal fruit is available. The granita is like a crunchy frozen slush – half-ice, half-drink with a granular texture that is ravishingly refreshing on the most sultriest of Sicilian summer days.

Even in the smallest bars in Sicily you can find the giant mixers that keep the almost fluid sorbet fresh all day long.

Granitas are usually served with warm Sicilian brioche which is a soft sweet bread made using Marsala wine and honey for a unique taste. Sicilian brioche is different from other types because it has a characteristic shape, its full name is brioche co tuppu. The word tuppu derives from the French word toupee which resembles the shape of the top part of the bun.

The combination of the warm brioche and ice cold granite is mind blowing. Once your Sicilian breakfast arrives tear the tuppu off the top of the bun, then dip into your granita, bite, repeat, dip, bite, repeat …….

With such a choice of flavours you can choose half and half and try two flavours, chocolate and almond is yummy. You will also be asked if you want it topped with Panna (fresh whipped cream).

Another favourite pastry for breakfast eaten with a cappuccino or coffee is the cornetto (little horn) not to be confused with the French croissant, Sicilian cornetti are sweeter and dusted with icing sugar, they can be ordered plain or with fillings such as chocolate, nutella, pistachio cream and marmalade.

Sicilian coffee is as dark as midnight and served in the tiniest cups, they are served at the perfect temperature to drink and the taste explodes in your head like a bomb, hence why you are always given a glass of water to accompany your coffee. Traditionally Cappuccino is only drunk at breakfast.

The other morning beverage I cannot ignore is freshly squeezed Sicilian orange juice. There are around 67,000 hectares of orange groves in Sicily. Need I say more?

When meeting friends it is 100% more likely that they will suggest meeting for breakfast. My favourite flavours are traditional Sicilian lemon or almond, my husband loves chocolate and our dog Daisy, well she loves a spoon of any flavour.

Sometimes my Sicilian big brother will surprise us by dropping  off a takeaway Sicilian breakfast at our home on his way to work.

Of course hotels and bed and breakfasts across Sicily provide a feast for breakfast, mostly consisting of hams, salamis, cheeses, cornetti, pastries, cakes and fresh fruit. But do try to pop out for breakfast and BE SICILIAN.

Now I hope I can entice you with my mouthwatering photo gallery:

Bam Bar Taormina
Strawberry and Chocolate Granita
Ice and Sicilian lemons ... the perfect ingredients
Bar Turrisi, Castlemola
Smiles at Bam Bar Taormina
Freshly Squeezed Sicilian Oranges and Cappucino 
Chocolate Granita
Lemon Granita
Sicilian Espresso
Almond Granita
Sicilian Orange Juice and Cornetti
Special Delivery from my Sicilian big brother
an abundance of Sicilian pastries
Daisy enjoying a Bite

Next Blog post: "Cavalleria Rusticana"

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Love Sarah x

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